Just in time for Halloween, the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope has released a new and very detailed image of IC 63, which is 550 light years from Earth in the Cassiopeia Queen, sometimes called Ghost Nebula or Ghost of Cassiopeia. The Nebula, which is close to the bright star Gamma [γ] Cassiopeiae (the central point in constellation’s “W” form) disappears in the wake of the ultraviolet light pouring from the star. When the ghostly nebula fades under the exertion of energetic photons, its hydrogen is illuminated with red light. The blue light in this amazing picture comes from no emission, but from reflection, because the dam of the IC 63 reflects some of Gamma Cass’s incoming lights. Since it both emits and reflects light, Ghost Nebula is classified as an emission and reflection bubble.
IC 63 floats from visible (red) to infrared (blue) light, revealing some of the stars that lie within and beyond spooky clouds.
NASA, ESA and J. DePasquale (STScI)
Ghostnebeln is not the only nearby region affected by the star’s extreme emissions. In fact, Gamma Cas slowly takes out clouds in an area that stretches over 2 ° in the sky or about four times the width of the full moon. Although the star itself is easy to find, the IC 63 and nearby IC 59 are weak and difficult to see without dark skies and a large telescope. At Halloween, the pattern will remain about 60 percent enlightened, so if you want to shoot for this cosmic view, it’s best to wait a few days and aim at New Moon on November 7th.