Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Gamma Cygni Nebulosity


Sadr neighborhood

The little patch of sky I call the Sadr neighborhood has a lot going for it. It is not only positioned conveniently for me to view, but it sports a nice bright star (Sadr, or Gamma Cygni) plus some interesting patches of nebulosity. On the other hand, photographing it has been a challenge for this amateur astrophotographer, and I keep coming back to it to see if I can make it look better. Fun!

This attempt started with several exposures through a hydrogen alpha filter to poke through the light polluted sky and capture the emission nebulosity. Then I exposed for red, green and blue to complete the image. I know… you could care less about my problems. The important thing is, is it nice to look at. I hope you like it.

For more information about the image, see below and here.

IC1318 is the nebula around the bright star gamma-Cygni, which is the star where the body and wings of Cygnus, the swan, cross in the sky. Cygnus is up very high in the northeastern sky at this time of year. Despite the bright red colours in this image, this nebula is actually faint and tenuous visually — the brightest parts are visible in a dark sky with a big telescope, but they look just like a faint haze in the eyepiece.

The well known Gamma Cygni supernova remnant – so named for its proximity to the star — also lies within this region; astronomers estimate its age at about 7,000 years. The Fermi team considers it possible that the supernova remnant spawned the cosmic rays trapped in the Cygnus X “cocoon,” but they also suggest an alternative scenario where the particles became accelerated through repeated interaction with shockwaves produced inside the cocoon by powerful stellar winds.

Compared to the Sun this is an enormous star, with 12 times the Sun’s mass and about 150 times the Sun’s radius.[5] It is emitting over 33,000 times as much energy as the Sun, at an effective temperature of 6,100 K in its outer envelope.[5] This temperature is what gives the star the characteristic yellow-white hue of an F-type star. Massive stars such as this consume their nuclear fuel much more rapidly than the Sun, so the estimated age of this star is only about 12 million years old.

“… only about 12 million years old.” Think about that for a minute. The light from Sadr had been shining for 12 million years before it started shining in my night sky. Such numbers remind me that we have a Creator to whom dealing with such numbers is child’s play. By the time Sadr exploded into existence, our galaxy was already present and the solar system had been formed. The planet Earth had been prepared for the likes of you and me! (My head hurts!)



2 Responses to “Gamma Cygni Nebulosity”
  1. Linda says:

    Oh.. I wouldn’t have thought to use my hydrogen alpha filter for poking, thanks for the tip! Pretty stars. Absolutely love the emission nebulosity. Who knew?

  2. Dave says:

    Well, God knows. There are lots of interesting corners of the patch of light-polluted sky that is available to me. I look at the sky and see a few of the brightest stars, then I look through little Stella’s eyes, and will you look at all those stars! Humbling.

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