Dramatic Witch Head nebula, birthplace of stars, seen in new image

Nov. 5, 2013 at 7:03 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A new image from a spacecraft surveying the cosmos in infrared shows baby stars being born in a distinctively shaped nebula known as the Witch Head, NASA says.

The Witch Head nebula, named after its resemblance to the profile of a wicked witch -- with an exaggerated nose, mouth and chin -- is hundreds of light-years away in the Orion constellation.

The billowy clouds of the nebula, where baby stars are brewing, are being lit up by massive stars causing them to glow with infrared light picked up by WISE's detectors, astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said.

The dramatic image was captured when WISE was recently "awakened" to hunt for asteroids in a new program called NEOWISE, they said.

The reactivation came after the spacecraft was put into hibernation in 2011 after it had completed two full scans of the sky as planned.

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