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Meteorologist Scott Sutherland explains this weird scientific pattern which resembles a Jack-o'-lantern!
HALLOWEEN HAUNT

In the spirit of Halloween, here are 5 creepy space images


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Monday, October 31, 2016, 5:00 - As the video above shows, the Sun can put on some pretty horrific visages at times, but, out there, in the infinite expanse of the cosmos, horrors lurk to make even the most hardened heart scream in terror (regardless of whether they can be heard or not).

The Withering Glare of the Cyclops

Starting with the closest, Jupiter's Great Red Spot is transformed into an angry-looking Eye of the Cyclops.


Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

What's really happening here? The Great Red Spot is an immense, Earth-swallowing superstorm that has been churning away in the atmosphere of Jupiter for centuries. The oval shape of the storm is already reminiscent of an eye, but the dark bands of clouds to the northwest form a rather distinct 'furrowed brow' look in this image. As for the dark 'iris' of that glaring cycloptic storm... that's the dark shadow of Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede. As the biggest natural satellite in the solar system - larger than the planet Mercury - Ganymede casts a very large shadow across Jupiter's face when it eclipses the Sun. On April 14, 2014, the shadow actually crossed right through the Great Red Spot as it tracked across the planet, and the Hubble Space Telescope snapped this picture as it did!


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The Flaming Skull of a Monster

Okay, the Jupiter one was pretty tame, all things considered, but how's this one for raising the hairs on the back of your neck?


A. Fabian (IoA Cambridge) et al., NASA

This glowing visage of a flaming skull is an X-Ray image of the Perseus Cluster - a collection of galaxies in the constellation Perseus - captured by NASA's orbiting Chandra Observatory. While the skull-like shape is simply a product of the gases surrounding the cluster, some of which are hot enough to emit powerful x-rays, while other regions are cooler, there is a true monster in this image. The bright spot at the center of the image (between the skull's eyes) is Perseus A, a supermassive black hole that's over 300 million times the mass of our Sun. For comparison, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, is only 4.1 million times the Sun's mass. Perseus A is so powerful that the 'nose' of this skull is actually a shadow cast by an entire galaxy that's being pulled towards the black hole!


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Creeping Tendrils of Doom


Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO

Talk about creepy! While this may look like some kind of living, alien creature, lurking there just waiting to lash out at us with a mass of slimy green/brown tendrils, this is actually something very, very dead - the Tycho Supernova Remnant. As far as astronomers can tell, somewhere between 8 and 10 thousand years ago, a binary star system at the core of that remnant erupted, as the white dwarf star (the dead remnant of a Sun-like star) pulled too much matter off of its companion star, and it exploded into a Type 1a supernova. The shockwave of the event blasted out the excess matter into the creepy-looking nebula seen above by the Chandra X-ray telescope. (As a side-note, why are so many creepy things seen with x-rays?! Also, click here to see a video tour of the remnant!)


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The Haunts of Cepheus


T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF

If this haunting view brings to mind a ghostly pursuit, as the apparitions to the left flee from the menacing spectral hunter at their heels, you can easily be forgiven for that bit of pareidolia. This nebula, located roughly 1,500 light years away from us, in the constellation Cepheus, is named vdB 141, or more commonly, the Ghost Nebula. The shapes we see here are due to the gas and dust of the nebula reflecting the light from the nearby bright stars (like the one towards the top right of the image and the one near the base of the 'spectral hunter'). Viewed from another angle (like in another star system), and this nebula would probably look very different. Whether it would be more or less spooky, though, is up for debate!

The Medusa's Gaze


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It's a good thing this face isn't turned more towards us, as the medusa's gaze is deadly! Technically, this is the Witch Head Nebula, located in the Orion constellation. However, in this view taken by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) the witch takes on a much more serpent-like look, as does her hair - especially the snake in the middle, which appears to have an open mouth and two glowing stellar eyes!

Click below to watch: Most popular costumes for Halloween 2016

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