It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to see the screaming witch’s head in this new image of nebula ICC 218 – aka, aptly, Witch Head nebula – from NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE.)
The Witch Head nebula is hundreds of light-years away in the Orion constellation, according to astronomers. Astronomers say the billowy clouds of the nebula, where baby stars are brewing, are being lit up by massive stars, Starlight is hitting the dust in the cloud, causing it to glow with infrared light. The infrared light was picked up by WISE’s detectors.
WISE was recently “awakened” to hunt for asteroids in a program called NEOWISE. The reactivation came after the spacecraft was put into hibernation in 2011 after it had completed two full scans of the sky.
The dramatic image was captured when WISE was recently “awakened” to hunt for asteroids in a new program called NEOWISE, they said.
Thank you NASA!
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.