IC 63 Ghost Nebula in Infrared
Hubble Captures the Ghost of Cassiopeia in Near-Infrared Light
Powerful gushers of energy from seething stars can sculpt eerie-looking figures with long flowing veils of gas and dust. One striking example is "the Ghost of Cassiopeia," officially known as IC 63, located 550 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.
The nebula's ethereal glow might remind people of apparitions such as those reported by paranormal investigators. In reality, when viewed in near-infrared wavelengths, streamers of dust are reflecting light from the nearby, blue-giant star Gamma Cassiopeiae (not seen here). In this near-infrared view background stars and galaxies can be seen through the semitransparent dust clouds. A blue color was assigned to shorter infrared wavelengths in one exposure. A red color was assigned to longer infrared wavelengths in a second exposure, and the images were then combined. Hubble photographed IC 63 in August 2016.
The constellation Cassiopeia is visible every clear night from mid-northern and higher latitudes. Its distinctive "W" asterism, which forms the queen's throne, is best seen high in the sky on autumn and winter evenings. Gamma Cassiopeiae, the middle star in the W, is visible to the unaided eye, but a large telescope is needed to see IC 63.