located just outside of the Milky Way Galaxy
resides a spooky cloud of gas and dust...
Known as the Ghost Head Nebula, this object sort of resembles a giant carved pumpkin in space—if giant pumpkins measured 473 trillion kilometers across (that's fifty light years). The two central 'eyes' consist of hot young stars that have likely formed within the past 10,000 or so years. Stellar winds and radiation from these new stars haven't yet begun to dissipate the surrounding clouds of gas and dust.
The quote originates from Shakespeare's "The Tempest." In the play, the sorcerer Prospero has made himself ruler of a small island, deposing and enslaving its former ruler Caliban. At one point, Caliban aims to usurp Prospero with the help of some shipwrecked sailors, but Prospero thwarts the plot long before it can take place.
Disgusted by the actions of his slave, Prospero refers to Caliban as "this thing of darkness," a reference to the magic that has been used to corrupt him, to which Prospero takes responsibility with the phrase "I acknowledge mine." He concedes that, since he chose to enslave and manipulate Caliban, Caliban's treachery is ultimately a consequence of Prospero's own actions.
With the gas and dust of the Ghost Head Nebula supplying the raw materials, stars continue to form in the region. Once these stars have formed, stellar winds and radiation will begin to dissipate what's left of the Ghost Head Nebula until the nebular structure is no longer visible.
This process has already begun with the two central 'eyes' of the nebula. The eye on the left consists of one very large and hot young star; the eye on the right is more complex, consisting of multiple large stars shrouded within a cloud of dust.
Just as Prospero took responsibility for Caliban's treasonous actions against him, so too is the personified Ghost Head Nebula responsible for the mutinous actions of the stars against their nebular host.
All of the newly forming stars within the nebula will eventually aid in its dissipation. But the stars themselves can't be blamed for this apparent act of treachery—they're the creations of their master, the Ghost Head Nebula, whose fate is already being dictated by the cosmic events unfolding within its gaseous veil.
More Shakespeare in Space:
- Shakespeare in Space #8: All That Lives Must Die
- Shakespeare in Space #7: Life... It Is a Tale told by an Idiot
- Shakespeare in Space #6: There is a World Elsewhere
- Shakespeare in Space #4: The Heavens Themselves Blaze Forth
- Shakespeare in Space #3: When We are Born
- Shakespeare in Space #2: Stars, Hide your Fires
- Shakespeare in Space #1: Slipp'd, Dissolved, and Loosed
- Hubble Space Telescope: "Nebula NGC 2080, nicknamed the 'Ghost Head Nebula'"
- Shakespeare: "The Tempest"