Russell Croman Astrophotography  



Melotte 15 and the Heart of the Heart Nebula

About This Photograph

The cluster of stars in the upper-right of this photograph is known as Melotte 15. A few of these stars weigh in at as much as 50 times the mass of our sun. The copious ultraviolet light from these few stars is the driving force behind both the excitation of the gasses giving rise to the glowing nebula, as well as its slow excavation. Along the border of this cavity, the radiation pressure from this light is eroding the denser parts of it, seen here as lumpy cone and pillar shaped objects. Dense knots of gas persist very near the cluster, likely giving rise to the birth of even more stars as the gas slowly collapses under its own gravity.

This photograph was taken using special filters that isolate light from sulfur (red), hydrogen (green), and oxygen (blue).


Related Photographs

The Heart and Soul Nebulas
The Heart and Soul Nebulas in Elemental Color

Technical Details

Optics:PlaneWave 14" CDK
Camera:SBIG STX-16803
Mount:Paramount ME II
Filters:Chroma 3nm [SII], H⍺, [OIII]
Dates/Times:1-17 November 2020
Location:RC-Astro North Observatory at New Mexico Skies
Exposure Details:[S II]:Hα:[O III] = 8.5:4:8 hours (20.5 hours total)
Acquisition:MaxIm DL 6, ACP Expert
Processing:PixInsight, Photoshop