Just in time for Halloween, NASA / ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has released a new, highly detailed picture of IC 63, located 550 light-years from Earth in Cassiopeia the Queen, sometimes referred to as Ghost Nebula or Ghost by Cassiopeia , The fog hanging near the bright star Gamma [γ] Cassiopeiae (the central point in the W-shape of the constellation) disappears in the wake of the ultraviolet light emanating from the star. As the ghostly mist fades under the onslaught of energetic photons, its hydrogen glows with reddish light. The blue light in this stunning image does not come from the emission, but from the reflection, since the dust in IC 63 reflects part of the incident light from Gamma Cas. As it emits and reflects light, the ghost fog is classified as an emission and reflection nebula.
IC 63 fades from visible (red) to infrared (blue) light, revealing some of the stars that lie inside and outside the Ghostly Cloud
NASA, ESA, and J. DePasquale (STScI)
The Ghost Nebula is not the only nearby region affected by the extreme emission of the star. In fact, Gamma Cas is slowly eroding clouds in an area spanning 2 ° in the sky, or about four times as wide as the full moon. Although the star itself is easy to find, the IC 63 and the adjacent IC 59 are hard to spot, with no dark sky and a large telescope. By halloween, the moon will be lit about 60 percent. So if you want to shoot for this cosmic appearance, it is best to wait a few more days and aim for the new moon on November 7th.