Cosmic Alligator Eats its Way through the Sky

Wise_wise2011-024_500

WISE_WISE2011-024 July 1st, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Many people enjoy the summer pastime of imagining pictures in clouds in the sky. The same can be done with clouds in the Universe. Seen here by NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, the cloud CG4 might be imagined as a cosmic alligator eating its way across the sky. Others might see a giant red-nosed slug.

The open jaws of the alligator appear poised to chomp down on a red star. This red source is the young stellar object, Spitzer 073425.3-465409. Young stellar objects are exactly what they sound like: stars that are in their early stages of formation. The reddish color of this star is due to its surrounding dust that glows in infrared light.

A little further towards the left lies a galaxy which will make a nice dessert for the alligator (or slug). The galaxy is ESO 257-19, a spiral galaxy that appears elongated because it is inclined to our field of view. At approximately 118,000,000 light-years distant, ESO 257-19 is extremely far away. By comparison, CG4 and Spitzer 073425.3-465409 is 1,300 light-years distant, placing them both well within the bounds of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The letters CG stand for Cometary Globule. Despite its name, a cometary globule is not a comet. Comets are icy chunks of frozen gases with embedded rock and dust that orbit around the Sun. Cometary globules resemble comets in shape in that they appear to have an opaque head and a luminous tail, but have a vastly different scale than comets. Rather than being a densely-packed snowball with a tail millions of miles long, CG4 is actually a cloud of gas and dust trillions of miles across. The gas in this cloud is heated by nearby young, massive, hot stars causing it to glow in infrared light.

This image is associated with a recently released image from WISE, the Gum 22 Nebula. Gum 22 and CG4 are both part of an extensive star-forming complex known at the Gum Nebula Region. More than 30 cometary globules can be found within the Gum Nebula. In general, the heads of these globules point in the direction of the nebulas center. The distribution and shape of these cometary globules may be the result of the shock wave from past supernova explosions.

CG4, Spitzer 073425.3-465409 and ESO 257-19 are found in the constellation Puppis, which is located in the Southern celestial hemisphere. The name Puppis comes from the Latin word for the stern of a ship. Puppis is part of a larger group of constellations that portrays the ship of the Greek hero Jason, including Carina (the ships keel and hull), Vela (the sails of the ship) and Pyxis (the ships compass).

Color in this image represents specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan represent light emitted at 3.4 and 4.6 microns, primarily from hot stars. Green and red represent light emitted at 12 and 22 microns, primarily from clouds of dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-024

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
CG4 ESO 257-19 Spitzer 073425.3-465409
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Appearance » Dark » Bok Globule
Galaxy » Type » Spiral

Distance

Universescale1
1,300 light years
Wise_wise2011-024_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 7h 34m 25.3s
DEC = -46° 54’ 9.0”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
1.1 x 1.1 degrees
Constellation
Puppis

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-024_1280
×
ID
WISE2011-024
Subject Category
B.4.2.3.2.   C.5.1.1.  
Subject Name
CG4, ESO 257-19, Spitzer 073425.3-465409
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
1,300
Redshift
-
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-024
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
CG4 globule distance specified
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
113.605417, -46.902500
Reference Dimension
2800, 2800
Reference Pixel
1400, 1600
Scale
-3.81944439141100e-04, 3.81944439141100e-04
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
SIN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2011-024
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
×

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

×
Universescalefull
1,300 light years