Astronomy Picture of the Day

IC 2118: The Witch Head Nebula

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IC 2118: The Witch Head Nebula

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble -- maybe
Macbeth should have consulted the Witch Head Nebula.

This suggestively shaped
reflection nebula

is associated with the
bright star Rigel in the

constellation Orion.

More formally known as
IC 2118,
the Witch Head Nebula glows primarily by light reflected from bright
star Rigel, located just
off the upper right edge of the
full image.

Fine dust
in the nebula reflects the light.

The blue color is caused not only by
Rigel's blue color but because the
dust grains reflect blue light more efficiently than red.

The same
physical process causes
Earth's daytime sky to appear blue, although the scatterers in
Earth's atmosphere are molecules of
nitrogen and

The nebula lies about 1000 light-years away.

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