The Cat's Paw and Crab nebulas

Field centered on R.A. 17h 23' & Dec. -35° 00'


As soon as we find out whose cat did this . . . Nebulae are as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps cats are for getting into trouble. No cat, though, could have created the vast Cat's Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. The Cat's Paw Nebula is the glowing red nebula near the bottom of the above picture. At 5500 light years distant, Cat's Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years.
For reasons unknown, NGC 6357, the upper nebula in the picture, is forming some of the most massive stars ever discovered. NGC 6357 houses the open star cluster Pismis 24, home to these tremendously bright and blue stars. The overall red glow near the inner star forming region results from the emission of ionized hydrogen gas. The surrounding nebula, shown above, holds a complex tapestry of gas, dark dust, stars still forming, and newly born stars. The intricate patterns are caused by complex interactions between interstellar winds, radiation pressures, magnetic fields, and gravity. NGC 6357 spans about 400 light years and lies about 8,000 light years away (text adapted from APOD).

Click here for an enlargement (postcard style) at higher resolution.


Pentax SXD75 + Vixen Sphinx SXD SBIG STL11K, binning 1x1, T=-20°C Ha (60m) L (30m) RGB (15m each) Optec HaLRGB filter set

Maleene station, Mt. Magnet, W.Australia





All of the photographs and text on these pages are copyrighted by Marco Lorenzi. They may not be reproduced, published, copied or transmitted in any form, including electronically on the Internet or World Wide Web, without written permission of the author.