This is an amazing image recently released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), of a huge area of gas and dust that is a star birth region in the Milky Way. This astronomical object is one of the few that really does look like it’s name, as the three distinct parts of the glowing red cloud look pretty much like a giant cat’s footprint in space.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula is 5,500 light years away in the constellation Scorpius and is one of the most active stellar
nurseries in our Galaxy. Spanning 50 light years across (an area of sky a bit larger than the full Moon), it glows red from massive newly born stars lighting up the hydrogen gas clouds. But this dense cloud of gas and dust means many of the infant stars are concealed from our view. Astronomers estimate the nebula could contain several tens of thousands of stars, including brilliant blue stars nearly 10 times the mass of our Sun embedded within it.
This incredible sight was created from images taken with the wide field imager instrument at the 2.2 metre MPG/ESO Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Take a look at this video showing the position of the nebula in our Galaxy…