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Wildrik Botjes Planetarium
Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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Flame Nebula, Kari Holmgren

Flame Nebula

The Flame Nebula is a nebula located in Orion. A nebula (Latin for "cloud") is a giant cloud of interstellar material. We can most easily see nebulae that glow or reflect visible light.

The Flame Nebula is found in the the constellation of Orion. It is located just north-east of the star Alnitak, the star on the far left of Orion's belt. The Nebula is approximately 1500 lightyears away. It is the upper-left portion of the larger Horsehead Nebula. It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1780 and added to the Messier catalogue on December 17, 1780.

The Flame Nebula is quite remarkable. The above picture shows the resemblance of the Nebula to an actual flame. It is smaller at the bottom then blossoms out and culminates in a peak at the top. The brightest part is found at the center of the Nebula around the black lane in the center of the object. The Nebula is very large (7.145 lightyears across) and also very bright.

The Flame Nebula owes its distinctive red color to glowing hydrogen atoms at the edge of Orion's molecular cloud complex. The dark lane in the center of the Nebula is a cloud of obscuring dust that hides the true source of the Flame Nebula's energy from optical telescopes. Infrared wavelengths, however, penetrate the dust to reveal hot, young stars hidden behind the dark lane. The streak of light that runs through the upper right hand corner is a streak of light from the bright star Alnitak.

References:

TheSky software

Messier 78, Starforming Nebula (M78, NGC 2068)
http://seds.org/messier/m/m078.html

Fraknoi, Morrison, and Wolff. Voyages to the Stars and Galaxies. 3rd ed. Belmont, Cal.: Brooks/Cole, 2004.

Flame Nebula Close-up: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap070202.html

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:42:07.20
Declination (J2000) -01:49:36
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x6 seconds in Clear, Red, Blue, and Green
Date observed

October 22 , 2007 (CBVR)