ic 1318
ic 1318 Back to Index Page Previous Image Next Image
Known to many as the Butterfly Nebula, IC 1318 is a delicate wreath of red nebulosity spanning more than 2 degrees of sky near the heart of Cygnus. Located amidst one of the richest star-forming regions in the entire Milky Way (the Cygnus X region), this celestial papillon is thought to be the near side of a huge HII region more or less in a state of equilibrium. In other words, active star-formation has all but halted in this particular molecular cloud. Furthermore, the most recently formed stars are located on the other side from our line of sight where they are slowly dissipating what is left of IC 1318's gas and dust. As the intense radiation from these stars encounters hydrogen gas, it essentially causes it to "fluoresce" and release the ruddy H-alpha emission that our cameras pick up so well. Copious amounts of dark interstellar dust combine with density gradients in the cloud to create a scene that is nearly kaleidoscopic in appearance. The most obvious example of this, of course, is the dark nebula LDN 889 which appears to bisect the bright emission nebula, thus creating the "butterfly". Located near the heart of the butterfly is the tiny but conspicuous blue glow of a reflection nebula designated as GN20.25.3. Image taken with homemade 8-inch f/5.4 astrograph and SBIG STL-11000XM. LRGB image composed of 40 minutes each R,G,B and synthetic L channel. Click on the above image for the high resolution version.