9 October 2016 | Heart & Soul

Heart & Soul Nebula

Credit: Fabian Neyer | Click image to enlarge

Image Data

  • Location: Antares Observatory, Switzerland
  • Camera: STL11000M
  • Filters: Baader HaRGB
  • Optics: TeleVue NP101is f5.4
  • Exposure time: LRGB = 26.67,6.17,10.5,12.33h total: 55.67h
  • Sky conditions: mag 5 sky

This beautiful image of The Heart and Soul nebulae, made by Swiss astrophotographer Fabian Neyer covers an area of the sky over ten times as wide as the full moon and over eight times as high in the constellation Cassiopeia.

Located about 6,000 light-years from Earth, the Heart and Soul nebulae form a vast star-forming complex that makes up part of the Perseus spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy. The nebula to the right is the Heart, designated IC 1805 and named after its resemblance to a human heart. To the left is the Soul nebula, also known as the Embryo nebula, IC 1848 or W5. The Perseus arm lies further from the center of the Milky Way than the arm that contains our sun. The Heart and Soul nebulae stretch out nearly 580 light-years across, covering a small portion of the diameter of the Milky Way, which is roughly 100,000 light-years across.

The two nebulae are both massive star-making factories, marked by giant bubbles that were blown into surrounding dust by radiation and winds from the stars. In the cooler and dustier crevices of clouds like these, gas and dust are just beginning to collect into new stars. These stars are less than a few million of years old — youngsters in comparison to stars like the sun, which is nearly 5 billion years old.

Also visible near the centre of the bottom are two galaxies, Maffei 1 and Maffei 2. Both galaxies contain billions of stars and, at about 10 million light-years away, are well outside our Milky Way yet relatively close compared to most galaxies. Maffei 1 is the elliptical object (right) and Maffei 2 is the spiral galaxy (left).

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