HAPPY VALENTINES DAY SPACE LOVERS
Photo Credit: J-P Metsävainio (link below)
Accordingly, I present to you the Heart and Soul Nebula which are together located about 7500 light years away in the constellation Cassiopeia (one of the 48 original Ptolemy constellations and 88 modern constellations) and out in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Together, gap included, this structure spans a distance of almost 600 light years (7.5 degrees of the night sky) and if visible in its entirety would be nearly as wide as 15 Full Moons.
Let’s first detail the Heart Nebula which in this photo is the bright Emission Nebula of glowing gas containing thick dust lanes on the right. This structure, (as most) are broken down into some of its constituent sections. NGC 896 (or IC1795) is the knot on the lower right of the heart formation and was the first region in the structure to be discovered. Melotte15 (or IC1805) is the Open Star Cluster at the center of the heart and it is the powerhouse that’s pumping radiation into the surrounding gas and dust, lighting the heart for the lovers of the cosmos to behold. The cluster contains stars upwards of 50x the mass of the Sun and spans about 30 light years across. The Heart Nebula has an apparent magnitude of around +7 and stretches across 200 light years or 2.5 degrees of the night sky which is about 5x the width of the ½ degree wide Full Moon.
Next up is the glowing figure on the left of the photo, the Soul Nebula (Sharpless 2-199 or LBN 667) and sometimes referred to as the Embryo or Running Dog Nebula. The Soul contains 2 main pockets of emissions being created by the radiation from the 2 small Open Star Clusters in those pockets. First being the “body” (larger section) cataloged as IC1848 or W5. The body spans a diameter of about 140 light years and the pillars reach nearly 10 light years in length. The second cluster and pocket is CR634, an Open Star Cluster in the “head” (smaller section) which spans about 50 light years.
J-P Metsävainio ASTROANARCHY: http://astroanarchy.zenfolio.com/
NASA WISE Page on Heart and Soul: http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/gallery_heart_soul.html