Spitzer's Newest Nebula is a Rorschach Inkblot Test in the Stars

The Spitzer Space Telescope team released a 360 infrared map of the Milky Way and invited us to hunt through it at home. Now nebulas previously known only by catalogue numbers are earning all sorts of creative names.

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The image is taken by Spitzer's InfraRed Array Camera as part of the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) project. The four-colour composite is false-colour, with 3.6 micron wavelengths mapped to blue, 4.5 micron light is green, 5.8 micron light is orange, and 8 micron light is red. Interpreted into astronomy, dust is red, hot gas is green, and white is the mingling of gas and dust. Unrelated stars in the foreground and background are scattered throughout the image.

This nnebula is listed in astronomical catalogues as IRAS 15541-5349. That's a horrendously dull name for such an adorable nebula. After Twitter user @kevinmgill tagged it "Nebula Does Not Approve," the science team passed around the evocative nebula to see who saw what in the cloud of stars and dust. They found a fish, a raccoon, a Minecraft Creeper and a "cute coyote's head." All this combined to produce my new favourite press release title, "Coyote Head Nebula Does Not Approve."

What do you see?