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Surprising Science

A Ruptured Cometary Globule

What do you see in this photograph? A Pac-Man with a tail gobbling up stars in the galaxy? NASA published this image of CG4, a ruptured cometary globule, which, in the Rorschach test of observing the heavens, it described as a “claw.”

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The “claw” of this odd looking “creature” in the above photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the head of this object is not completely known. The galaxy to the left of the globule is huge, very far in the distance, and only placed near CG4 by chance superposition.

Image credit: NASA


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