The Prawn Nebula, located some 6000 light-years from Earth, is a massive nebula (roughly 250 light-years wide, covering an area of sky equivalent to four times that of the full Moon) filled with gas and dust. Despite its size, it has often been overlooked by observers due to its faintness and because most of its light is emitted at wavelengths where the human eye is not sensitive, specifically in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum.
Well, the Prawn Nebula languishes in indiscernibility no longer. Check out the glorious photo above of the Prawn Nebula, taken by the VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Paranal Observatory in Chile and enhanced by amateur astronomer Martin Pugh, who apparently was able to improve the quality and color of the images using some very long camera exposures.
For more information on the project, check out the ESO’s press release.
Image credit: ESO/Martin Pugh, published under the Creative Commons license (CC BY 3.0), via http://www.eso.org.