Category Nebula

Looking Beyond the Gas and Dust in the Pelican Nebula

Pelican Nebula (IC 5070)

Pelican Nebula (IC 5070)

It is pretty amazing the detail you can pull out of Nebula using small focal length telescopes.  I love the small focal length for the wide, sweeping shots of the gas and dust in space but they are not great for getting in really close for those detailed close ups of the massive pillars and plumes these stellar nurseries produce.  In learning more about the Pelican Nebula, I read that it has a particularly active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds. The light from young energetic stars is slowly transforming cold gas to hot and causing an ionization front gradually to advance outward. Particularly dense filaments of cold gas are seen to still remain, and among these are found two jets emitted from the Herbig–Haro object.

Herbig–Haro objects (HH) are small patches of nebulosity associated with newly born stars, and are formed when narrow jets of gas ejected by young stars collide with clouds of gas and dust nearby at speeds of several hundred kilometres per second. Herbig–Haro objects are ubiquitous in star-forming regions, and one is visible in the Pelican Nebula image that I captured (or is it?)  Thanks to tools like Photoshop, which can be used to bring out the full detail of these objects, I was able to capture an infant star that has not yet ignited.  You can just make out the jets of gas and dust at the top of the dark pillar in the middle of the image below, which was isolated and cropped from the larger image above...

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Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) and Flame Nebula (NGC 2024)

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in HaRGB

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in HaRGB

It has been cloudy lately where I live but last night I got a break in the action and was treated to a crystal clear night.  I decided to take advantage of the Orion Constellation as it contains a very cool nebula right near the belt.  My target was the Horsehead Nebula (also known as Bernard 33 or IC 434).  In my field of view, my CCD camera also caught the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024).  I took both a color image, which is a composite image of shots taken in Red, Green, Blue, and Hydrogen Alpha (Ha) filters.  I was excited to see the output of my imaging session because this was the first color image I have successfully processed.

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in Ha

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in Ha

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