ic 5146
ic 5146 Back to Index Page Previous Image Next Image
Situated within the rich starfields along the Cygnus/Lacerta border, the Cocoon Nebula (IC 5146) is a fine example of a maturing star-forming region. The aptly named glow can be seen here literally dangling at the end of an outstretched arm of dark nebulosity known as Barnard 168. Found along the length of B 168 is a host of denser cores of interstellar dust, such as LDN 1042 and LDN 1040 located near the upper righthand corner of this image. The true nature of the Cocoon itself was speculated even near the turn of the 20th century when professional astronomer Max Wolf took the first photographic images of this area and noted that the brightest parts of the nebula seemed to be immersed within a distinct "trench" void of any stars. This area, candidly referred to as "Wolf's Trench" is now known to harbor a fairly young cluster of more than 100 stars designated as the Cygnus T3 Association, or more commonly known to amatuers as Collinder 470. However, the true beauty of the Cocoon lies within the fact that it is a wonderful mixture of both ruddy emission and bluish reflection nebulosity, giving the object a rather splendid "rose-like" appearance complete with pedals and a brilliant yellow stigma near center. The stigma, of course, being the bright 9th magnitude star BD+46o3474, which happens to be the illuminating source for most of the surrounding gas and dust. Another conspicuous feature of this image is the presence of the small blue reflection nebula known as Van den Bergh 147, located less than 10' to the west of the Cocoon. Providing striking contrast to the much larger and pinkish-colored Cocoon, this peculiar object is composed of nothing more than tiny grains of dust being illuminated by the light which they reflect from the nearby emission-line star known as V1578 Cygni. This star along with many other such young variables are all outlying members of the same young stellar association that is responsible for the Cocoon. Image taken with homemade 8-inch f/5.4 astrograph and SBIG STL-11000XM. LRGB image composed of 110 minutes of L and 40 minutes each R,G,B. Be sure to click on the above image for the high resolution version.