NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 10 April 2023: Running Chicken Nebula | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 10 April 2023: Running Chicken Nebula

Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is a snapshot of the Running Chicken Nebula, located towards the constellation of the Centaur.

| Updated on: Apr 10 2023, 11:44 IST
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Running Chicken nebula
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Running Chicken nebula
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Running Chicken nebula
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Running Chicken nebula
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Running Chicken nebula
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IC 2944 is about 600 light-years away from Earth. (NASA/Daniel Stern)

Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is IC 2944, also known as the Running Chicken Nebula. According to NASA, it is located about 6,000 light years away towards the constellation of the Centaur and spans almost 100 light-years across. The nebula's strange nickname, Running Chicken, comes from the chicken-like shape of its brightest region, which resembles a running bird.

The picture was captured by astrophotographer Daniel Stern, NuSTAR Project Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

What is a Nebula?

A Nebula is a star forming region located in Interstellar space, which is the space between stars. It consists of gases, mainly hydrogen and helium. According to NASA, a Nebula can contain as few as ten stars or as many as millions of stars. Although most nebulae belong to just three types - spherical, elliptical and bipolar, some of them might be irregularly shaped, so much so that they resemble objects on Earth.

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Some of the most peculiar shapes include the Headphone nebula, the Heart and Soul nebula and the Flying Ghost nebula. Although numerous nebulae are located at great distances, advanced technology such as the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope has enabled NASA to observe and study these amazing celestial objects.

NASA's description of the picture

To some, it looks like a giant chicken running across the sky. To others, it looks like a gaseous nebula where star formation takes place. Cataloged as IC 2944, the Running Chicken Nebula spans about 100 light years and lies about 6,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Centaur (Centaurus). The featured image, shown in scientifically assigned colors, was captured recently in a 16-hour exposure over three nights.

The star cluster Collinder 249 is visible embedded in the nebula's glowing gas. Although difficult to discern here, several dark molecular clouds with distinct shapes can be found inside the nebula.

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First Published Date: 10 Apr, 11:41 IST