ngc 2174
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Located along the Orion/Gemini border is a massive star-forming region known as the Gemini OB1 Molecular Cloud, which covers more than 30 square degrees of sky. Imaged here is one of the many complex areas of star formation that represent the "visible" portion of this otherwise invisible cloud. Catalogued as the HII region Sharpless 2-252, this circular nebula is more commonly recognized by the NGC designations of NGC 2174 and 2175. There has been much conjecture through the years as to which part(s) of the nebula historically relate to a particular designation. However, it is quite accepted that NGC 2174 is actually the small pale colored "knot" of nebulosity found embedded within the top right corner of the red emission nebula shown here. Meanwhile, NGC 2175 is though to represent the large round emission nebula itself, while the eerie blue reflection nebula at far left border is given the rather elaborate name Cederblad 67c. While the vast majority of this object appears to be excited by the brilliant O-class star HD42088 located near center, several smaller "ultracompact HII regions" seen in projection against the diffuse nebulosity may contain their very own illuminating sources. Indeed, modern research has found that there are many different stages of star formation visibly associated with this one single area of sky. Individual "clusters" of stars have been found within this object ranging in age from less than 1 million to more than 6 million years old. Also of note is the compact nebula Sharpless 2-252e located to the immediate left of the brilliant central star and the tiny "fish head" shaped feature Sharpless 2-252a found to the upper right of the main nebula. Image taken with homemade 8-inch f/5.4 astrograph and SBIG STL-11000XM. LRGB image composed of 60 minutes each R,G,B and synthetic L channel. Click on the above image for the high resolution version.