Russell Croman Astrophotography  



The Heart and Soul Nebulas

About This Photograph

These two emission nebulas in the constellation of Cassiopeia are composed of gasses made visible due to ionization by the ultraviolet light coming from the young, hot star clusters near their centers. These stars were likely born from these clouds, but now they are hollowing out huge caverns in their previous nursery. Cones and pillars of gas can be found around the borders of these caverns, formed when denser clumps of gas and dust erode more slowly, leaving wakes pointing away from the bright central stars.

The red emission is caused mostly by the glow of ionized hydrogen gas, with some contribution from sulfur. Near the centers of each nebula, the color takes on a more bluish hue due to ionized oxygen. Oxygen takes more energy to ionize, and so only the regions closer to the bright stars receive enough ultraviolet light to make it glow with a brightness comparable to the more easily ionized hydrogen.


Related Photographs

The Heart and Soul Nebulas in Elemental Color
Melotte 15 and the Heart of the Heart Nebula

Technical Details

Optics:Takahashi FSQ-106 EDX4
Mount:Paramount MX+
Filters:R, G, B, [SII], Hα, [O III]
Dates/Times:26 Aug - 30 Sep 2020
Location:RC-Astro North Observatory at New Mexico Skies
Exposure Details:19.8 hours total – R:G:B = 2.5:2.5:2.3 hours, [SII]:H⍺:[OIII] = 4.5:4.5:3.5 hours
Acquisition:MaxIm DL 6, ACP Expert
Processing:PixInsight, Photoshop
Processing:This photograph is a combination of RGB and emission-line data, resulting in an emphasis the nebulas relative to the stars. The nebulas and the stars retain their natural color.