NASA astrophotographer “captures” Space Bat in Deep Space

Astrophotographer Mark Hanson recorded the bright reflective nebula LDN 7 and the dark nebula LDN 43, consisting of very dense material and blocking light from surrounding stars. The most interesting thing is that the shape of the two nebulae resembles a giant space bat. The image was taken and processed in July last year, but given its creepy theme, NASA chose Halloween to share it as a themed astronomical photo of the day.

Photo of LBN 7 and LDN 43. Photo: Mark Hanson

“What is the scariest nebula in the galaxy? One of the contenders is LDN 43, which is surprisingly similar to a huge space bat flying among the stars on a dark Halloween night,” says NASA.

A reflective nebula is an astronomical term for clouds of interstellar dust that may reflect the light of a nearby star or stars. The energy emitted by nearby stars is not strong enough to ionize the nebula’s gas, which could create an emission nebula, but it is strong enough to scatter light and make dust visible to telescopes. 

Inside the dark nebula LDN 43 (consisting of parts LDN43, B, D and E) are two more nebulae GN 16.31.3 and GN 16.31.7.

An extended view of the nebula from astrophotographer Jim Thommes

This is a molecular cloud located at a distance of about 1400 light-years from us in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is dense enough to block light not only from background stars, but also gas streams illuminated by the neighboring reflective nebula LBN 7. This thread of gas and dust 12 light-years long is not a harbinger of death, but in fact a stellar nursery.

Hanson is an astrophotographer for the space agency and says he has been pointing his camera into space for 25 years. At first he took his photos from Wisconsin, then moved to New Mexico, where the sky is darker. But now his surveillance and photography equipment is in El Sauce, Chile, which he controls remotely.

The space bat is just one of several cosmic phenomena that Hanson has filmed over the years. The astrophotographer exhibits many of his photographs on his website, where visitors can see incredible images of the night sky.

Earlier we talked about the five best space horror movies for Halloween.

According to PetaPixel

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