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© 2002-2006 Russell
Croman unless otherwise noted.
A Star is Born
On 23 January 2004, amateur astronomer Jay McNeil discovered a new nebula
in Orion, near the existing nebula, M78. Here is an animation of the
emergence and evolution of his find, constructed using images taken by a
number of amateur astronomers over a period of time.
What we are
witnessing here is apparently the actual birth of a star. The young
would-be star had been gathering material for untold years, shrouded in a
cocoon of dust and gas. Then, in a matter of just a few months, it has
burst into brilliance, lighting up the cloud around it. This cloud is
changing rapidly, and professional astronomers are eagerly pursuing
follow-up observations of this rare event.
Here are links to Jay's original discovery image and a follow-up image:
2004-02-03 follow-up Image.
BBC News article on Jay's discovery!
Animation source images...
The above animation was constructed with five
original images by the authors below. These were registered to each other,
cropped to focus on the new nebula, and then animated using Adobe
ImageReady. Three "tween" frames were generated between each main image.
Note: All images are copyright their original authors. The use of their work
here is gratefully acknowledged.
- 2002-12-07, Benoit Schillings, via private email.
- 2003-10-24, Cord
- 2003-12-30, Russell Croman.
2004-02-12, Adam Block.
Note also that these images were taken with widely varying equipment
and filters. So while the above animation gives a good sense of the
object's development, things such as absolute accuracy of brightness
levels, for example, are not represented with very good precision.