On January 4, 2023, NASA unveiled a fascinating image of – the Globule and the galaxy – as part of the Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Dusty heads and long tails are the main features of cometary balls. These features give cometary balls their distinct visual characteristics. Often spheres are where stars are born, and many have young stars visible at their center. The head of this Globule is cracked, making it unusual.

The Globule, which appears in the image, is CG4 (aka The Hand of God). It is located about 1,300 light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Puppis. Its “head” is about 1.5 light-years across and its “tail” is about eight light-years long.

Although the Globule’s head is opaque, it glows from the hot, newly formed light from the stars. Their energy gradually clears the microscopic debris that scatters starlight from the Globule’s dusty head. In this Globule, electrically charged hydrogen emits a faint red glow.

In the image, the Globule appears to be about to devour the spiral galaxy ESO 257-19 (PGC 21338) at the upper left. In reality, this galaxy is more than 100 million light-years away and placed near CG4 only by chance superposition.