The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a beautiful view of the Prawn Nebula – a nebula floating in deep space.
According to Space.com, the Prawn Nebula, officially IC 4628, is an emission nebula 6,000 light-years from Earth, located in the constellation Scorpius. Nebulae (interstellar clouds of gas and dust) form after massive stellar explosions and are also the place where new stars form.
IC 4628 is believed to be a giant stellar nursery as it spans over 250 light-years. Scientists classify it as an emission nebula because its gas has been energized (ionized) by the radiation of nearby stars. That process creates electrons that replay the absorbed energy as infrared light, according to NASA.
However, this kind of light cannot be detected by the human eye, and that makes IC 4628 extremely faint to sky-watchers on Earth. Given its vantage point in space, the Hubble telescope can get a close-up view of the nebula’s texture, including bright regions of luminous gas and luminous star-forming regions.
Recent Hubble images show only a small portion of the nebula’s vast star-forming region. The red swirls of dust and gas indicate the presence of ionized iron (Fe II) emission.