IRAS 05437+2502, a mysterious reflection nebula and star-forming region

 
IRAS 05437+2502, a mysterious reflection nebula and star-forming region

IRAS 05437+2502, also known as Ira’s Ghost, is a small, faint reflection nebula filled with dark dust and a mysterious bright sharp arc. It spans only 1/18th of a full moon in the constellation Taurus, close to the central plane of the Milky Way.

At first glance it appears to be a small, rather isolated, region of star formation and one might assume that the effects of fierce ultraviolet radiation from bright young stars probably were the cause of the eye-catching shapes of the gas.

However, the bright boomerang-shaped feature may tell a more dramatic tale. The interaction of a high velocity young star and the cloud of gas and dust may have created this unusually sharp-edged bright arc. Such a reckless star would have been ejected from the distant young cluster where it was born and would travel at 200,000 km/hour or more through the nebula. This is just a theory though, that has been neither proved nor disproved.

The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) first discovered the nebula in 1983, and this in 2010 released image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows many new details, but astronomers still have no clue what is lighting up the glowing arc.

This image was taken with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys on Hubble. It was part of a “snapshot” survey.

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