The Cat's Paw Nebula IRAC
Ssc2018 14b

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Observation • October 23rd, 2018 • ssc2018-14b


The Cat's Paw Nebula, imaged here by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is a star-forming region inside the Milky Way Galaxy and is located in the constellation Scorpius. Its distance from Earth is estimated to be between 1.3 kiloparsecs (about 4,200 light years) to 1.7 kiloparsecs (about 5,500 light years).

The image was taken as part of the Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE), a survey of the Milky Way Galaxy. It was taken using Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC). The colors correspond with wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), and 8 microns (red).

The bright, cloudlike band running left to right across the image shows the presence of gas and dust that can collapse to form new stars. The black filaments running through the nebula are particularly dense regions of gas and dust. The entire star-forming region is thought to be between 24 and 27 parsecs (80-90 light years) across.New stars may heat up the pressurized gas surrounding them causing the gas to expand and form "bubbles".

About the Object

Cat's Paw NebulaBear Claw NebulaNGC 6334Gum 64
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Nebula > Type > Interstellar Medium
Nebula > Appearance > Emission
Nebula > Appearance > Dark
5,500 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 4.5 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC


Position ()
RA =17h 19m 17.3s
Dec = -36° 3' 56.4"
Field of View
1.9 x 0.7 degrees
North is 55.0° left of vertical