Friday, 3 January 2014

Breeding stars (Orion special - part II)

The Great Nebula in Orion (also know as M42 or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula located south of the Orion's belt and part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. It is one of the brightest nebula in the sky and visible in plain sight. It has an estimated size of 24 ly (apparent size of 64x60 arcmins). This nebula is one of the most studied and photographed of the winter skies in the northern hemisphere and has shed light on how the stars are formed.

This nebula is the closest region of massive star formation in the sky, a star nursery where the stars are born. This process involves a collapsing cloud of gas and dust until it reaches enough pressure and mass to initiate the fusion process in the core of the newly born star. The core of this nebula is very bright due to the amount of just born stars inside it.

This picture show also M43, separated of the main nebula by a dust lane, and NGC 1973/5/7, the Running Man Nebula, which together picture the shape of (exactly), a running man.

Due to the high range of lights in this nebula I had to try an HDR photography. This means that the final image is composed of two different exposures, a shorter one for showing the core without burning it, and a longer exposure for revealing the details in the gas clouds. 

The short exposure is composed of 30x45'' lights, 6 darks and 10 bias. The long exposure is composed of 13x4' lights, 3 darks and 10 bias. Both exposures where stacked separately with DeepSky Stacker and processed together using StarTools, later merged using this same software. 

Again, the amount of detail in the nebula that I was able to picture with the small ETX-70 (of course thanks to the new mount), it just left me speechless once I started processing the images.


And the image annotated: