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It's Halloween! NASA Space Telescope Spots a Ghostly Cosmic Jack-O'Lantern

Outflows of radiation and particles from a massive O-type star carved deep gouges in this nebula, making the cloud of gas and dust look like a spooky jack-o'-lantern.
Outflows of radiation and particles from a massive O-type star carved deep gouges in this nebula, making the cloud of gas and dust look like a spooky jack-o'-lantern.
(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted a cosmic jack-o'-lantern

Researchers uncovered the grimacing pumpkin while mapping star formation in the outer region of the Milky Way. A new animation of the nebula outlines the hollowed-out pumpkin, which appears to be screaming into space.

The carved-out cloud of gas and dust is caused by the outflow of radiation and particles from a massive O-type star that is 15 to 20 times more massive than the sun, according to a statement from NASA. 

More: These Space Pumpkins from NASA's 2019 Carving Contest are EPIC! 
Related: Haunting Photos: The Spookiest Nebulas in Space

The Spitzer Space Telescope detects infrared light and was able to reveal the massive glowing star at the center of the cloud, which is also known as a nebula. Streams of stellar material likely swept the surrounding dust and gas outward, carving deep gouges in the cloud, which scientists have nicknamed the Jack-o'-lantern Nebula. 

The colors captured in the NASA image represent different wavelengths of infrared light. The green and red regions represent light emitted by dust radiating at different temperatures. The O-type star that carved out the Jack-o'-lantern is represented by the white spot near the center of the nebula, according to the statement. 

The new GIF is a high-contrast version of Spitzer image, making the red wavelength more pronounced and, in turn, creating a spooky orange backdrop perfect for Halloween. 

Observations of the Jack-o'-lantern Nebula were published July 18 in The Astrophysical Journal, as part of a study of the outer Milky Way. 

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