In 1837, at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, the English astronomer John Hershel discovered the Cat's Paw Nebula, an emission nebula in the constellation Scorpius about 5,500 light-years away near the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Now the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released this striking new image of the Cat's Paw, officially known as NGC 6334.
"NGC 6334 is one of the most active nurseries of massive stars in our galaxy and has been extensively studied by astronomers," according to an ESO press release.
"The nebula conceals freshly minted brilliant blue stars -- each nearly ten times the mass of our Sun and born in the last few million years. The region is also home to many baby stars that are buried deep in the dust, making them difficult to study. In total, the Cat’s Paw Nebula could contain several tens of thousands of stars."
"Particularly striking is the red, intricate bubble in the lower right part of the image. This is most likely either a star expelling large amount of matter at high speed as it nears the end of its life or the remnant of a star that already has exploded."
The ESO is the leading intergovernmental astronomy organization in Europe and known as "the world's most productive astronomical observatory."
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