The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning image of the massive shadow cast by a planet-forming disk 1,300 light-years away.
This feature, nicknamed the Bat Shadow, was spotted in a stellar nursery known as the Serpens Nebula.
And, it’s truly enormous.
According to NASA, the distant Bat Shadow as Hubble viewed it stretched roughly 200 times the length of our solar system.
The effect shown in the new Hubble photo is much like ‘a fly that wanders into a flashlight’s beam,’ the space agency explains.
It was captured using Hubble’s near-infrared camera.
The latest image release follows a three-week shutdown that halted Hubble’s operations after its pointing system was compromised.
The problem was the result of an aging gyroscope and a failed backup.
Eventually, however, the Hubble team was able to coax the backup gyroscope into operations, allowing the telescope to come back on.
Hubble requires three working gyroscopes for peak performance, according to NASA.
In addition to the Bat Shadow, the space agency shared another Halloween-themed Hubble photo earlier this month, showing a glimpse at the spooky Ghost Nebula.
This object sits about 550 light-years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia.
The nebula, known as IC 63 or ‘the ghost of Cassiopeia,’ is being shaped by radiation from a nearby unpredictably variable star, Gamma Cassiopeiae, which is slowly eroding away the ghostly cloud of dust and gas, according to NASA.
‘This celestial ghost makes the perfect backdrop for the upcoming feast of All Hallow’s Eve — better known as Halloween,’ said the Hubble team, who released the image.
The constellation of Cassiopeia, named after a vain queen in Greek mythology, forms the easily recognisable ‘W’ shape in the night sky.
The central point of the W is marked by a dramatic star named Gamma Cassiopeiae.
The remarkable Gamma Cassiopeiae is a blue-white subgiant that is surrounded by a gaseous disc.
This star is 19 times more massive and 65 000 times brighter than our Sun. It also rotates at the incredible speed of 1.6 million kilometres per hour — more than 200 times faster than our parent star.