In infrared image captured by the WISE mission, astronomers are seeing what appears to be the profile of a wicked witch in a distant nebula. The billowy clouds of the nebula, where young stars are forming, are being illuminated by massive stars, giving the appearance of a sinister figure. This image has sparked the imagination of many, as it seems to resemble a classic character from fairy tales and folklore. However, this eerie resemblance is simply a coincidence, as the shape is formed by the natural processes of stellar formation and not by any supernatural forces.
An image captured by NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The image shows the Witch Head nebula, named due to its resemblance to a wicked witch’s profile. Within this nebula, there are billowy clouds where young stars are forming, and these clouds are illuminated by massive stars. The dust within the nebula is illuminated by the starlight, causing it to emit infrared light, which WISE’s detectors detected.
The Witch Head nebula is located hundreds of light-years away in the Orion constellation, near the well-known Orion’s Belt.
WISE, after being in hibernation since 2011, was recently reactivated for a program called NEOWISE, where its primary mission is to search for asteroids. Prior to this, WISE had completed two full scans of the sky as originally planned.