GHOSTLY FIGURES REACHING FOR THE STARS…..
Photo credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF. CLICK photo to view full size and look below for information and links.
1200 light years distant in the constellation Cepheus is this vast 2 light year long reflection nebula cataloged as vdB 141 or Sharpless 2-136 though it is well known for its given name; the Ghost Nebula. Like spirits or ghosts rising up through the fog, reaching out, arms raised in hopes that the Ghost of Phoenix above will rescue them (I will show you the Ghost of Phoenix next). In reality, this cloud of star forming material is actually creating life; stellar life.
Gas and dust move through space, those perturbations create density pockets which causes gravity to begin to pull more gas and dust together, condense, compress, heat up and eventually as the pressures, mass and heat build, it sparks to life a new star. This region, though its spooky appearance is no different. Within the nebula are several newborn stars; as their light shines through it gives the entire structure a yellowish-brown hue, illuminating the ghostly figures trying to reach out to the Ghost of Phoenix…..
On the right side of this photo the cloud is undergoing a gravitational collapse and is likely the early stage formation of a binary star system. The system being created has already been given a designation; BD+67 1300.
NAME: vdB 141, Sharpless 2-136, S2-136, Bok Globule CB 230, Ghost Nebula.
WHAT IS IT?: 2 light year long section of a star forming reflection nebula in the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 1200 light years distant.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Approximately 2 light years in diameter.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Cepheus.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 21h 16m 26s / DEC +68° 15′ 37″.
NOAO page for this photo: http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im1060.html