Hubble Captures the Ghost of Cassiopeia
The brightest stars embedded in nebulae throughout our galaxy pour out a torrent of radiation that eats into vast clouds of hydrogen gas – the raw material for building new stars. This etching process sculpts a fantasy landscape where human imagination can see all kinds of shapes and figures. A nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia has flowing veils of gas and dust that have earned it the nickname "Ghost Nebula." The nebula is being blasted by a torrent of radiation from a nearby, blue-giant star called Gamma Cassiopeiae, which can be easily seen with the unaided eye at the center of the distinctive "W" asterism that forms the constellation. This Hubble Space Telescope view zooms in on the creepy-looking top of the nebula, material is swept away from it, forming a fantail shape. IC 63 is located 550 light-years away.