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The Bear Claw Nebula (also called the Cat’s Paw Nebula) was discovered by John Herschel in 1837, when he was at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The nebula is 5,500 lightyears away, or three times distant as the Orion Nebula, in Scorpius. Current research has revealed that the bright areas are nurseries of very young and massive stars. The stars’ light is so energetic and intense that it destroys dust in the vicinity. The red colour is due to the ionization of hydrogen gas. The Bear Claw Nebula has been given the catalogue references NGC 6334, and Gum 64.

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Bear Claw Nebula, NGC 6334

Photo credit: NOAO