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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2005

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Cocoon Nebula, Chad Steininger

Cocoon Nebula

The Cocoon Nebula floats like an island within a sea of dark clouds. The Cocoon is a strikingly beautiful nebula located about 4,000 light years away toward the constellation of Cygnus. The estimated angular size of the Cocoon Nebula is 8.94au and the linear size is 10.4 light years. Speculation based on recent measurements holds that the massive star in the center of the above image opened a hole in an existing molecular cloud through which much of the glowing material flows. The same star, which formed about 100,000 years ago, now provides the energy source for much of the emitted and reflected light from this nebula. Some of the gas is so hot it emits light of its own. Dark areas are lanes of dust so thick they block the light behind them.

A nickname of "The Cocoon Nebula" has came from its round shape and dimmed impression. The cluster is not very rich, containing only about 20 stars, the brightest of which is about magnitude 9.6.at the center of the cluster and nebula. The Cocoon Nebula gets its beauty from billowing clouds of gas and dust -- the raw material for star formation. The Cocoon is an emission nebula, a reflection nebula, and an absorption nebula. The emission nebula is the what is seen as red which makes up what we know to be hydrogen. The reflection nebula is reflected light which is scattered. However, we also know that this same blue scattered light is what our sky is made up of. Lastly, the absorption nebula is the light that is being absorbed which we can also describe as being black. This can also known as being dust particles. These three types of gas clouds are responsible for the red, blue, and black regions shown above. This Nebula is another reminder of how beautiful and creative our God is to create such a masterpiece.

References:

Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA) "The Cocoon Nebula" 2002 http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap021014.html

"Catching the Light" by Jerry Lodriguss 1997 http://www.astropix.com/HTML/E_SUM_N/COCOON.HTM

 

Right Ascension (J2000) 21:53:30
Declination (J2000) +47:15:41
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in C, 300 seconds in B, and 150 in V,R
Dates observed

October 6, 2005 (C)

October 7, 2005 (V,R)

October 11, 2005 (B)