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Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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M78 , Jonathan De Ruiter

M78

M78 is a star forming reflection nebula in the Orion Constellation. It was first discovered in 1780 by Pierre Méchain. It is a part of a group of nebulas near the constellation of Orion called the Orion complex. It is 1600 light years away and 2.05 light years across. Calling it a star forming nebula means that there are stars forming inside the nebula itself. Kitt Peak National Observatory observed the Nebula in infra-red and discovered a small cluster of 192 new small stars. It has also been considered a reflecting nebula since 1919 when Vesto M. Slipher observed that it has a continuous spectrum, meaning that it reflects the light of the larger stars in its interior.

This image was taken through a variety of color filters to show a number of its visible light color. If you click the image another image opens up that shows the dimmer portions of the nebula which surround the image on this page. You can see from the above image that it is indeed a reflecting nebula since we see a bluish color and since we know from other reflecting nebulas that they refelct bluish colors the best.What happens with a reflecting nebula is that there are stars with dust behind them. It is this dust which reflects the light of the stars and gives us the color and shape. In the linked image we see what look like parts of the nebula spread farther than is shown in the first picture these are called NGC 2067 and NGC 2064. There is one more nebula in this group called NGC 2071 which is to far away from M78 to be caught in frame. In the second picture there is a dark line which seems to seperate M78 from the other two, this is likely a part of the nebula that is closer to us and thus reflecting the light back toward the stars instead of toward us. These nebulas as well as other nebulas in the region are part of a molecular cloud group called LDN 1630 which is part of the Orion Complex.

References:
Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "M78" Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m078.html>

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:46:23
Declination (J2000) 00:04:26.6
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 3x60 seconds in C, 2x300 seconds in B, 180 seconds in V, 60 seconds in R
Date observed

November 7, 2009 (CBVR)