NGC 6334: Cat’s Paw
Image & Summary: Robert Gendler
Distance: 5,500 light years
Located in the constellation of Scorpius, the Cat’s Paw Nebula resembles a faint, luminous paw-print on the sky. Deep images reveal that the nebula is about a degree across in the sky.
At a distance of about 5500 light-years away it is a truly vast structure spanning almost 100 light-years across. The sculpted gases of NGC 6334 are illuminated by the light of numerous powerful stars, some exceeding 10 solar masses.
Many of these luminous hot stars are surprisingly not visible because they lie within the dusty plane of our galaxy. At infrared wavelengths the numerous hot stars are revealed and the nature of this object as a region of massive star formation becomes clear.