Pictures of the Cat’s Paw Nebula

A guide to NGC 6334, known as the Cat's Paw Nebula, including information about the massive stars born in the region, and images captured by astrophotographers.

The Cat's Paw Nebula by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Looking rather like a cosmic feline foot protruding outwards from among the stars, NGC 6334 is also known as the Cat’s Paw Nebula or the Bear Claw Nebula, making it one of many nebulae that look like animals.

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The Cat’s Paw Nebula an emission nebula about 90 lightyears across and is located 5,500 lightyears away, yet still resides within our Milky Way galaxy. It can be seen from Earth in the Scorpius constellation.

The Cat’s Paw Nebula is often imaged glowing bright red due to the presence of ionised hydrogen atoms located within the cosmic cloud.

This is a region of space known as a stellar nursery due to the high rate of stars being born there, including giant stars as massive as up to 10 times the mass of our own Sun.

Below is a gallery of some of the best images of the Cat’s Paw nebula sent to us by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers from across the world.

If you would like to learn more about astrophotography, follow our astrophotography guides or discover the best cameras for astrophotography.

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And if you would like to submit your own astro images for potential inclusion in the magazine, read our guide on how to send us your images or get in touch via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Cat's Paw Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: APO triplet 80mm, ASI1600mm-c.
The Cat's Paw Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: ED120 Refractor, AZEQ6 Mount, ST80 Guidescope, Synguider, Canon 600D modded.
The Cat's Paw Nebula by Delberson Tiago de Souza, Silvania, Brazil.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula by Delberson Tiago de Souza, Silvania, Brazil. Equipment: Orion ED80, SkyWatcher HEQ5, QHY163M, Optolong LRGB filters.
The Cat's Paw Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: SW 8″ F/5, ASI1600mm-Cool, ZWO EFW, Optolong 1.25″ LRGB.
The Cat's Paw Nebula by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
The Cat’s Paw Nebula by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Equipment: TS 115/800, ZWO ASI 1600 MONO COOLED, HaLRGB, PixInsight + PS6