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NASA share ghostly going-ons in space with images of astral 'ghouls' and 'Jack-o’-lantern' in time for Halloween

A drawing overlaid on the image reveals why researchers nicknamed this region the 'Jack-o’-lantern Nebula.' Credit: NASA

NASA have nicked-named a massive star the 'Jack-o'-lantern Nebula' after the agency's Spitzer Space Telescope captured images where it resembled a cosmic hollowed-out pumpkin.

Researchers believe powerful outflows of radiation and particles from the huge star - known as an O-type star - swept the surrounding dust and gas outward, creating deep gouges in the cloud, known as a nebula.

The image shows infrared light (which is invisible to the human eye) captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA

The star - which is 15 to 20 times heavier than the sun - appears as a tiny white dot in the NASA images. The green and red seen in the photos represent wavelengths that have been emitted mostly by dust radiated at different temperatures.

The combination of green and red in the image creates the yellow hues while the blue signifies a wavelength emitted by stars and some very hot regions of the nebula.

A high-contrast version of the same image makes the red wavelength more pronounced. Together, the red and green wavelengths create an orange hue and highlights contours in the dust as well as the densest regions of the nebula, which appear brightest, appearing to resemble a lit pumpkin.

This image picture highlights contours in the dust as well as the densest regions of the nebula. Credit: NASA

Researchers discovered the Halloween-themed star while examining a region in the outer region of the Milky Way galaxy as part of a study into whether the rates of star and planet formation in the galaxy’s outer regions differ from the rates in middle and inner regions.

The study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, is part of wider, longterm research to determine how many planets similar in composition to Earth there are in the outer galaxy.

This menacing face is actually two galaxies colliding. Credit: NASA

The Jack-o'-lantern Nebula wasn't the only ghostly going-on in space this Halloween- NASA astronomers were surprised to find a pair of glowing eyes glaring at them in a new Hubble Space Telescope image.

The menacing apparition is in fact a titanic head-on collision between two galaxies.

Each "eye" is the bright core of a galaxy, one of which slammed into another. The outline of the face is a ring of young blue stars while clumps of new stars form a nose and mouth.

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Although galaxy collisions are common most of them are not head-on encounters. The impact of the collision gives gives the system the arresting "ring" structure for about 100 million years - considered a "short amount of time" by astronomers.

The crash pulled and stretched the galaxies' disks of gas, dust and stars outward. This action formed the ring of intense star formation that shapes the nose and face.