LBN 86: The Eagle Ray Nebula

This eagle ray glides across a cosmic sea. Officially cataloged as SH2-63 and LBN 86, the dark nebula is composed of gas and dust that just happens to appear shaped like a common ocean fish. The interstellar dust nebula appears light brown as it blocks and reddens visible light emitted behind it. Dark nebulas glow primarily in infrared light, but also reflect visible light from surrounding stars. The dust in dark nebulas is usually sub-millimeter chunks of carbon, silicon, and oxygen, frequently coated with frozen carbon monoxide and nitrogen. Dark nebulas are also known as molecular clouds because they also contain relatively high amounts of molecular hydrogen and larger molecules. Previously unnamed, the here dubbed Eagle Ray Nebula is normally quite dim but has been imaged clearly over 20-hours through dark skies in Chile.

Via NASA

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