Hubble captures haunting Ghost Nebula for Halloween

NASA's space telescope spots the cosmic ghost of Cassiopeia.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

The Skull and Crossbones Nebula has some competition when it comes to creepy space apparitions. 

NASA and the European Space Agency are getting in the Halloween mood with a fresh Hubble Space Telescope look at IC 63, a wispy nebula known as the ghost of Cassiopeia.

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The Ghost Nebula haunts the constellation Cassiopeia.

ESA/Hubble, NASA

The Ghost Nebula is located in the "W"-shaped constellation Cassiopeia. It's easy to see how it earned its spooky nickname thanks to what NASA poetically calls its "flowing veils of gas and dust." 

"The nebula is being blasted by a torrent of radiation from a nearby, blue-giant star called Gamma Cassiopeiae, which can be easily seen with the unaided eye at the center of the distinctive 'W' asterism that forms the constellation," says NASA.

ESA says the star's ultraviolet radiation bombardment is causing the nebula to slowly dissipate, which only adds to its ghostly mystique. This is possibly the most detailed image ever taken of IC 63, the agency notes, and highlights Hubble's impressive imaging abilities.

Hubble ran into a technical problem with its gyroscopes recently, but a recovery procedure seems to have the telescope close to resuming normal science operations.

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