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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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De Mairan's Nebula , Brent Schuster

de Mairan's Nebula

Part of the Great Orion Nebula, M43, otherwise known as De Mairan's Nebula, was discovered before 1731 by Jean-Jacques Dortous de Mairan. Separated by a dark lane of dust, this nebula was first described by De Mairan as "brilliance surrounding a star," which he thought was "very similar to the atmosphere of our Sun, if it were dense enough and extensive enough to be visible in telescopes at a similar distance." M43 contains its own, separate small cluster of stars with the brightest star, Nu Orionis, in the middle. The spherical area surrounding the bright star in the center is approximately 5 arc minutes across and the actual linear size is approximately 2.3 light-years across.

Nu Orionis forms a sphere of ionized gas around it. The higher density gas is seen closer to the star, and consists of hydrogen. This ionized hydrogen gas causes the pink color. The blue colors surrounding the more dense part of the nebula is formed from dust. This layer is actually behind the nebula and reflecting the light from the star. The brownish and black layers seen are also layers of dust, but instead of reflecting the light from behind the star, these layers are in front of the nebula. These layers of dust are like sheets, causing the waviness seen in outskirts of the nebula. New stars may be formed from the clouds of gas surrounding the star. This nebula is about 1,500 light years away.


redOrbit: M 43 - De Mairan's Nebula, part of Orion Nebula


Right Ascension (J2000) 05'35'36
Declination (J2000) -05'16'00
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in C, 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

November 7, 2009 (BVRC)