NGC 281 (Image Credit: J-P Metsavainio)

Meet NGC 281—otherwise known as the Pacman Nebula (given its resemblance to the iconic arcade game at visual wavelengths)—a star-forming region located roughly 9,200 light-years away from Earth (toward the constellation of Cassiopeia).

Found within the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, NGC 281 contains a wide variety of astronomical phenomena, which are shaped, sculpted and forged from its appreciable gas and dust content. Unlike most, its position in respect to the plane of our galaxy allows us to view the region unhindered: especially the high-mass cluster of stars—collectively known as IC 1590—situated in the nebula's center.

Another beautiful feature lingers nearby: a Bok Globule known as Barnard 1.


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