Can You Spot Orion’s Black Cat? ESA Shares Mysterious Image Of Cosmic Formation

The constellation of Orion is one of the most prominent star formations in the night sky. Its bright and visible stars from both hemispheres make this constellation one of the most famous in the world.

The constellation is visible throughout the night during the winter in the northern hemisphere, and summer in the southern hemisphere; It is also visible a few hours before dawn from the end of August to mid-November and can be seen in the night sky until mid-April.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Orion is located near the constellation of the river Eridanus and supported by its two hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor fighting with the constellation Taurus.

The constellation is perhaps best known for its three stars: Alnilam (ε Orionis), Alnitak (ζ Orionis) and Mintaka (δ Orionis) which form the asterism known as the Orion Belt, in the central part of the constellation. All three are distant stars (between 700 and 1350 light years away).

Rigel, Betelgeuse, and Bellatrix are its brightest stars.

Rigel (β Orionis), is the brightest star in the constellation and is, in fact, a triple star system whose primary star is a bluish-white supergiant that has a mass of 18 solar masses and a bolometric luminosity 85,000 times higher to the Sun.

Betelgeuse (α Orionis) is the second brightest star, a massive red supergiant with a diameter 887 times larger than that of the Sun.

The next star in terms of brightness is Bellatrix (γ Orionis). Bellatrix is a massive star with about 8.6 times the Sun’s mass. It has an estimated age of approximately 25 million years—old enough for a star of this mass to consume the hydrogen at its core and begin to evolve away from the main sequence into a giant star.

And while we all know Orion mostly because of its three central stars, Alnilam, Alnitak, and Mintaka, there are other features which make this constellation one of a kind.

Now, the European Space Agency has released a stunning photograph of the constellation of Orion which appears to show a strange, dark figure with glowing eyes, stretching across the night sky.

Image Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC

Some say it looks like a cosmic fox; others say its shaped like a cat, however, what the ESA snapped is, in fact, the dark nebula of the constellation of Orion.

The image was originated from data obtained by ESA’s Gaia satellite, which launched in 2013 and has since charted more than a billion stars in the cosmos.

“The image is based on data from the first release of ESA’s Gaia satellite, and shows the density of stars observed while scanning that region of the sky.”

As explained by experts, the strange photo of Orion, dust, and gas make up what appears to be a strange cat, with pointed ears, a long snout, and glowing white eyes.

However, if you were to look for this strange feature with the naked eye, you’d never see it says ESA.

Similar clouds exist across the Milky Way which can be seen when viewed from dark enough locations in the southern hemisphere.

“So far, Gaia data have been used to study only the most nearby regions of star formation, within several hundred light-years of us. With the new data, it will be possible to investigate in great detail regions that are much farther away, like the Orion star-forming complex, located some 1500 light-years from us, and to estimate the 3D distribution not only of stars but also of the dusty dark clouds where stars are born,” reports

Source: ESA

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