Islands in a Radiant Sea
In the center of the Heart Nebula, in the constellation, Cassiopeia, are snaking clouds of dust and gas, sculpted by the stellar winds and radiation from a newborn cluster of massive, supergiant stars. Only 1.5 million years old, the stars are scattered in a sea of atomic gases that glow and silhouette the dark dust clouds.
This is one of my favorite deep-sky objects. This image was my third attempt to capture this spectacular region of space. Previous efforts, in 2017 and again in 2018, fell short due to equipment problems, smoke from wildfires in the western U.S., and uncooperative weather. In 2019 the “astrogods” gave me a break. Through the fall I collected more than 30 hours of exposures. This rendition is composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur emissions.
20.6 hours total exposure of ionized hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur emissions.