The Jolly Roger of nebulae
A celestial pirate lurks in the southern skies, captured here by ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Given the official designation of NGC 2467, this nebula has also been given the nickname of the ‘Skull and Crossbones’ Nebula and was imaged as part of ESO’s Cosmic Gems Programme.
The collection of vivid colours is a region of active star formation with gas, dust and young stars all gravitationally bound and forming the sinister outline of a skull with a gaping mouth. It is this beautifully ominous shape that lends the nebula its nickname and has given astronomers a wealth of scientific data from which to make brand new discoveries.