The Pacman Nebula is Not Eating Stars!

Pacman Nebula

Pacman Nebula

In fact, the Pacman Nebula is actually creating new stars.  This nebula, which is also known as NGC 281, is an H II region that can be found in the the constellation Cassiopeia.  NGC 281 got it’s name because it looks like the video game character “Pacman”.

Overall, the Pacman Nebula is a diffuse red-glowing emmision nebula.  If you take a close look near the right center, you can see an open cluster of stars – known as IC 1590.  This cluster has formed only in the last few million years so they are very young.   They are not bound together very tightly and will eventually find there way out of the nebula over the next tens of million years or so.

 There are also large lanes of dust and gas that obscure some sections.  It is thought that these dense knots of material are actually forming new stars.

Another interesting feature of this nebula are the dark Bok Globules which can be seen against the bright background of the nebula.  Bok Globules are dark clouds of very dense cosmic dust and gas that are typically found in H II regions.  These dense globules most often turn into double or multiple star systems.

The Pacman Nebula was discovered in August of 1883 by E. E. Barnard and is thought to lie about 10 thousand light years away from Earth.

The real pacman

The Real Pacman

I’ll be honest with you, I’m having a hard time seeing the resemblance to Pacman.  Take a look at the real Pacman.  What do you think?

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