October 12, 2018
This is the Helix Nebula from down under. I have an earlier image of this, taken from an observatory north of Huntsville, TX, but I did not have enough time there. Also, I was shooting through a lot of air, even here in Texas. This image above, taken at nearly 3x longer focal length through less air, shows the knots in the inner part being washed away by the stellar outflow of the hot star at the center. Showing those knots was my goal from long ago, now fulfilled in this image. This is a bi-color image, a combination of narrowband H-alpha and OIII frames.
September 22, 2018
The cluster upper left of center in this image is called IC 2944, and the nebulosity surrounding it is known as IC 2948. Bright, O-type stars in IC 2944 power the nebula, and around the cluster's bright stars sit a number of Bok globules being worn away by the ultraviolet light of the stars. These globules in particular are known as Thackeray's Globules, after their discoverer. The objects pictured here are found deep in south Centaurus and are not visible from Houston.
The data for this image comes from New South Wales and is 27 hours of narrowband, including 10 hours of H-alpha, through the 12.5" RCOS telescope.
Here is the H-alpha data from the set.
August 25, 2018
NGC 4755, sometimes called the Jewel Box Cluster, lies about 6,400 light years away and is visible in our constellation Crux. Well, it is visible if you can see Crux, which I cannot much from Houston, as Crux sits nearly at the horizon when at its northernmost.
The golden star near the middle is DU Crucis, an M2 supergiant. Many of the other stars, including the three, brightest blue stars, are type B supergiants.
North is up. The cluster is supposed to be quite young, less than 20 million years old, and perhaps much less than that.
This image is RGB 4,4,4x300" with the 12.5" RCOS from MPAstro in New South Wales. Someday I'd like to see this beautiful cluster with my own eyes.
August 24, 2018
These clumps of nebulosity are called NGC 6334 and remind some of a cat's pawprint. This area, which appears in Scorpius, is too far south for me to capture well with the camera.
Notice that the cloud seems to be blowing every which way; it's hard to see what exactly is powering the emission. Recent studies, especially this one, show that the area is packed with O- and B-type stars that could cause the emission. Also, the region is bursting with new star formation. It's a very exciting place.
This image is 14x1800" Ha and 16:16:16x1200" RGB with the 12.5" RCOS from MPAstro in New South Wales. The Ha was combined with the RGB. In this area, the H-alpha emission is overwhelming compared to the blue and green, though there is some blue and green there, perhaps some reflection as well as OIII glow.
August 11, 2018
Cluster NGC 3324 sits just northwest of Eta Carinae, from our perspective. Astronomers have wondered whether it is part of the Eta Carina nebular complex or not, because it sits so close by, but studies suggest the cluster and the Eta Carina complex are part of the same. The cluster of stars that is NGC 3324, just above center of the nebula here, contains three O-type stars known as HD 92206 B, A, and C (from left to right). 92206 A and B are type O6.5 V. 92206 C appears to be O7.5 V with a close binary companion of type BO V. These stars light up the emission nebula, hollowing out a bubble with their strong stellar winds and UV radiation. A, B, and C are each X-ray sources. Source. This study found about 500 stellar X-ray sources in the area, about 150 of which are probably young stars belonging to NGC 3324 and to another local cluster. These clusters probably comprise several hundred stars each. Only a few show up in the image above, however.
Data for this image comes from Martin Pugh's observatory, and is SHO = 10, 14, 10 x 1800" with the RCOS 12.5" telescope.
August 5, 2018