Latest in Science

Image credit:

The Big Picture: The mouth of an interstellar beast

Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
February 1, 2015
24 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

While Hubble certainly has the advantage out there in low Earth orbit, its ground-based counterparts have also been capturing their own mesmerizing shots of the universe. Take, for example, this image of the cometary globule CG4 taken by ESO's Very Large Telescope. CG4 is also known as "The Mouth of the Beast," because, well, it looks like the gaping maw of a gigantic serpent, though some call it "The Hand of God" instead. Cometary globules are elongated comet-like clouds of gas and dust -- the CG4, in particular, is located 1,300 light-years away from Earth in a constellation called "The Poop" or Puppis, if you want its fancier name.

Scientists still haven't deciphered why cometary globules look the way they do, though there are two existing theories. First is that they used to be spherical nebulae, which were disrupted and acquired a new form. The other theory is that CGs were formed by stellar winds and ionizing radiation from hot stars, which first lead to formations known as "elephant trunks" (the most famous example would be the Pillars of Creation), before they become cometary globules.

As for CG4 itself, it's actually very faint and telescopes have a hard time detecting it; the only reason why the head (which spans 1.5 light-years in diameter) looks opaque in this pic is because it's illuminated by the surrounding stars. Despite its faintness, it still has enough material to give birth to a few more sun-sized stars... or at least that's what's visible to us at this point in time.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
24 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2020 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2020 Back-to-School Guide

View
Our readers get real about their issues with the AirPods Pro

Our readers get real about their issues with the AirPods Pro

View
20GB of Intel internal documents were leaked online

20GB of Intel internal documents were leaked online

View
Disney has no idea what it's doing with 'Mulan'

Disney has no idea what it's doing with 'Mulan'

View
Trump executive order seeks to ban TikTok, WeChat 'transactions' in 45 days

Trump executive order seeks to ban TikTok, WeChat 'transactions' in 45 days

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr