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.  Using processing techniques, I was able to bring out the HH objects in the Pelican Nebula.

IC 5076 in the Pelican Nebula

IC 5076 in the Pelican Nebula

Here is the active star forming region in context:

Pelican Nebula IC5070-IC5076

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