Gas, Cosmic Caterpillar, or Doomsday Machine?
At first, NASA scientists believed this light-year-long knot of interstellar gas and dust called IRAS 20324+4057 was the first citing of a space caterpillar (source: APOD: 2013 September 4 – IRAS 20324: Evaporating Protostar (nasa.gov)). Rumors that a real-life Mothra could emerge from the colossal beast shook the world. Some believed this could be Mothra, and she would protect the earth. Others feared this was the first of many, and entire species of planet eating lepidoptera infesting the galaxy.
Further analysis showed this stellar object was nothing more than hot gases coalescing to form a new star. Harsh winds from nearby stars (15 light-years) had formed the gas and dust into a long tail. NASA released this update 63 days after the initial images went public, and it has taken years for the urban legends of Mothra or her evil sisters to fade.
Now the new Webb space telescope, with its enhanced sensor package, discovers a more sinister reality. Fresh from Photoshop Labs in Hollywood, New York, the James Webb Space Telescope transmitted images of the protostar. Here is our exclusive side-by-side comparison of the Hubble and Webb images.
This image does not look like recent Webb telescope images.
I’m sure they come in peace.
Let the rumors commence.
I’m a doctor, not an engineer.Dr. McCoy, Star Trek the Original Series, The Doomsday Machine – S2-E6
Cover image taken from Review: “The Doomsday Machine” Remastered – TrekMovie.com