This is emission nebula “Sh2-284 (Sharpless 284)” about 15,000 light-years away in the direction of Monoceros. The horizontal banding of the image corresponds to about 1.5 times the apparent diameter of the full moon (field of view 45.0 x 45.0 arcmene). According to the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the bright part of the image spans more than 150 light-years in diameter.
Sh2-284 is also a HII region where light is emitted from hydrogen gas ionized by ultraviolet radiation from massive young stars. Because hydrogen gas emits red light, Sh2-284 appears as a reddish nebula. The HII region is also a star forming region where stars are composed of gas and dust.
Radiation from young stars and the stellar winds that ionize hydrogen gas also push the nebula’s gas and dust away. According to ESO, there is an open cluster called “Dolidze 25” in the center of Sh2-284, which is eroding the nebula and forming a cavity. Around it, a high-density fragment that is difficult to erode remains like a “pillar”, indicating the erosion site of the star cluster.
By the way, ESO describes Sh2-284 as the “Smiling Cat” nebula. Come to think of it, doesn’t it look like the dark slits running from left to right in the middle represent the pads of a cat’s whiskers?
The image of Sh2-284 published in this article was taken with the wide-angle camera “OmegaCAM” mounted on the “VLT Survey Telescope (VST)” at the Paranal Observatory (Chile) operated by ESO (5 types of optical filters were used.) and published by ESO. on June 27, 2023.
- Image credit: ESO/VPHAS+ Team. Acknowledgments: CASU
- that The Smiling Cat Nebula captured in the new ESO image
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