Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pelican Nebula (IC 5070) - and a star too young to be seen

The Pelican Nebula is an H II (Hydrogen II) region in the constellation Cygnus. It is next to an even larger nebula - the North America Nebula. Both nebula are separated by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust. Young stars that formed in the nebula heat up the gas and cause an ionization front that slowly moves outwards from the nebula. Denser and regions of the gas remain colder and can be seen as pillars extruding from the front. At the tip of one of these pillars, two jets can be seen - emitting to both sides of the so called Herbig-Haro object 555. They indicate the presence of a protostar - a star in the very earliest stage of development, when interstellar gas is still undergoing gravitational collapse, and nuclear fusion at the core has just begun. These stars don't emit any light yet and can't be directly seen.

This is the Pelican Nebula (middle-right) with a small part of the North America Nebula (left). And between them the dark dust that separates them.
(click on the image to get full resolution picture)

This zoomed-out section shows the ionization front and two of the pillars:


And this is the pillar with the 2 jets at its tip:

This image was taken from our backyard in San Jose. It consists of 18x10min Ha, 25x10min OIII and 28x10min SII data. First real image with the Takahashi Super Reducer.