23 February 2017 | Starfields of Aquila

Aquila Martin Rusterholz

Image credit & copyright: Martin Rusterholz | Click image to enlarge or here for full-size

Image Data

  • Date: October 2016
  • Location: France
  • Camera: Apogee CG16M
  • Optics: Takahashi FSQ-106EDX III
  • Mount: ASA DDM85
  • Filters: Astrodon Gen 2, 3nm/5nm Narrowband
  • Exposure: HaRGB 495:160:160:160 min

Spanning 3.5 degrees, this stunning widefield image reveals the glorious splendour of the infrequently photographed Milky Way running through the constellation of Aquila. Many red ionized clouds are visible, which both consist of contrasting starforming regions and faint supernova remnants and planetary nebulae, in fact a veritable stellar graveyard!

The most prominent representation of stardeath is the looped oval supernova remnant Kes 78 visible towards the top of the image. Formed from the destruction of a massive star, as with the majority of known galactic supernova remnants, it was discovered in radio observations by the astronomer Michael Kesteven in 1968. It wasn’t until 40 years later that its associated optical emission was discovered by professional astronomers, many supernova remnants are visible in more than one wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum. Kes 78 is estimated to be 19,500 to 27,700 light years away with a possible age of 12,000 years. The second supernova remnant visible in this scene is G31.5-0.6, which is directly to the south of Kes 78 and has been poorly studied.

As Aquila is home to many nebulous remnants of stellar death, it conversely contains many dark nebulae and clouds in great abundance! The most prominent one is the large irregular region to the south, which also includes the emission nebula Sh2-67. Another one is the serpentine LDN 604 towards the north. Dark nebulae and dust are responsible for the absorption of optical light in the majority of the Aquila region and is likely to contribute to the faintness of the supernova remnants. Despite dark nebulae and dust consisting of the raw material for the creation of new stars, curiously active star formation in Aquila is very minimal with the most visible activity situated in the dark nebula LDN 673 (not visible in this image).

An annotated image helps identify the features in this image including the planetary nebulae WeSb 4 and the nitrogen dominated HaTr 10 amongst others.

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