A Spooky Space Ghost for Halloween!

A portion of vdB 141, aka the “Ghost Nebula”

Looking like something out of a Tim Burton movie, the eerie shapes seen above are part of a cloud of gas and dust located 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus. First identified in 1966, the human-like figures with “arms” raised give the nebula its spooky nickname: the “Ghost Nebula”.

Officially titled vdB 141 (or Sh2-136) the entire reflection nebula is over 2 light-years across — or about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri (where it’s recently been announced that there be a planet!)

The full span of the Ghost Nebula

The nearby stars around the nebula give it its light and color. Like fog around a street lamp, a reflection nebula shines only because the light from these embedded stars illuminate its dust; the Ghost Nebula does not emit any visible light of its own.

And for a full Halloween experience, listen to some spooky sounds from Saturn while checking out a large version of the Ghost Nebula… BOO! 🙂

Image credit:  T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF


  1. Lauren Freeman says:

    Abosolutly amazing Jason. Plus I love the Tim Burton mentioning.


  2. Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Many thanks|


    1. J. Major says:

      Yes Bill, of course!


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