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The Halloween-Themed Universe

31 Oct 2014, 13:57 UTC
The Halloween-Themed Universe
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I did a short presentation last night for a group of families at a Halloween event. My job was to talk space but make it as spooky as possible and use some Halloween themes for the kids. There really is a fine line between teaching Science and being entertaining, but here’s some of the things I did.
Lets start with the following image….What does this look like to you?
Yes it’s a nebula
Did you say the head of a witch? Then yes you are right! This is known as the Witch Head Nebula. A nebula is a place where gas and dust in the Galaxy get dense enough to form stars. Once these stars form their light shines on the gas, heating it up, and causing it to reflect starlight or emit light in infrared. We end up seeing shapes light the one above here on Earth. Add in our natural knack for pattern recognition, and BAM, you’ve got a Witch’s Head. In the case of the Witch Head Nebula, it is believed to be a supernova remnant 900 light years awayin the constellation Eridanus, illuminated by the star Rigel in Orion.
Our next spooky space curiosity is a ...

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