This cosmic region lies some 8,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of the Scorpion. It is located relatively close to the bigger known Cat’s Paw nebula. Although the Cat’s Paw is larger, this region isn’t exactly small: it spans more than 400 light-years across. The region, which is formally known as NGC 6357, is home to some of the most massive blue-white stars known to reside in our galaxy. In particular, are the stars from the open cluster Pismis-25, which famously contains a reddish glow formed through emission of ionize hydrogen gas clouds, lit up from the stars buried inside.
The intricate system of patterns and ridges were formed through the complex interaction between huge interstellar dust clouds, the ionized hydrogen atoms, and stellar winds that spew from the central baby stars.
The cat’s Paw Nebula is also known as NGC 6334. The below image was taken with the Wide Field Imager instrument at the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. In order to create the image, scientists combined images taken through blue, green and red filters, as well as a special filter designed to let through the light of glowing hydrogen.