Holy astronomy! It’s the Bat Shadow!


Hubble captures titanic light and shade.


Hubble’s image of the Serpens Nebula. The Bat Shadow is in the top right-hand quadrant.

Hubble’s image of the Serpens Nebula. The Bat Shadow is in the top right-hand quadrant.

NASA, ESO, STScI

In the star-forming region known as the Serpens Nebula, 1300 light-years from Earth, vast shadows created by the light from a young star passing through a ring of rock, debris, ice and dust creates a shape that evokes the symbol of Gotham’s famous crime-fighter.

This image was captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, and the star garnering all the interest is dubbed HBC 672.

Because of the shape, astronomers have nicknamed the effect the “Bat Shadow”. One stark difference, however, between it and the symbol thrown up to summon Bruce Wayne’s alter ego is size. This Bat Shadow spans approximately 200 times the length of our own solar system.

“This is an analogue of what the solar system looked like when it was only one or two million years old,” explains Klaus Pontoppidan from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, US. “For all we know, the solar system once created a shadow like this.”

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