The Dark Heart of the King

Wise_wise2010-034_500

WISE_WISE2010-034 September 29th, 2010

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of a hidden star-forming cloud complex of dust and gas located in the constellation of Cepheus. Cepheus, father of Andromeda, was a mythological king in the ancient Greek world. This image of dark nebulae lies near the heart of the king, as imagined by the ancient Greeks.

The dust in these nebulae blocks visible light passing through it, and the cloud and its contents are mostly hidden when viewed in visible light. What appears to the naked eye as the blackness of space is in fact a dark nebula. WISEs infrared vision both penetrates the dust to see stars within the cloud as well as detects the glow of the dust that makes up the cloud.

Different parts of this nebula have a variety of names in astronomical catalogs. The central portion is known as IRAS 22298+6505. IRAS stands for Infrared Astronomical Satellite, a predecessor to WISE and an international satellite that mapped the sky in infrared light in the 1980s. Other portions of this cloud are called TGU H686 P2 and LDN 1213. As with IRAS, the first letters of these objects refer to astronomical catalogs. TGU is an acronym for the Tokyo Gakugei University catalog, while LDN stands for Lynds Dark Nebula catalog. The surveys that produced these catalogs were often done with fields of view that were much smaller than WISE's. What looked like distinct nebulae in those surveys are revealed as a much larger cloud complex by WISE. This complex spans about 120 light-years across and is located about 2,500 light-years away at the edge of a spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, called the Orion spur.

These types of clouds are the locations where stars are born. When a cloud of dust and gas becomes so dense that it can block out light, it is ripe for parts of the cloud to collapse into newborn stars. The whole cloud doesnt form stars all at one time. Some parts of the cloud go first, and the winds and radiation from the biggest and hottest stars in that first generation will blow away parts of the cloud and compress other parts causing further star formation to occur. The bright blue giant star, 26 Cephei, is an example. Seen in the upper central part of this image, 26 Cephei is surrounded by a bubble of cool, red dust and dust-enshrouded younger stars that may owe their existence to their older sibling.

Color in this image is representational. Blue and cyan represent light at 3.4 and 4.6 microns, primarily emitted by stars. Green and red represent light at 12 and 22 microns, emitted by the relatively cooler dust particles in the dark clouds.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2010-034

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
IRAS 22298
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Star Formation
Wise_wise2010-034_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 22h 30m 48.5s
DEC = 65° 35’ 39.7”
Orientation
North is 146.0° CCW
Field of View
2.4 x 2.4 degrees
Constellation
Cepheus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2010-034_1280
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ID
WISE2010-034
Subject Category
B.4.1.2.  
Subject Name
IRAS 22298
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2010-034
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
337.7019100, 65.5943518
Reference Dimension
6200.0, 6200.0
Reference Pixel
3101.0, 3101.0
Scale
0.00038189, 0.00038189023
Rotation
145.95
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
WCS retrieved using CXCs PinpointWCS
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2010-034
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.