Nebulae: Not as Close as they Appear

Wise_wise2011-018_500

WISE_WISE2011-018 May 4th, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

This latest image from NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows three different nebulae located in the constellation of Perseus. NGC 1491 is seen on the right side of the image, SH 2-209 is on the left side and BFS 34 lies in between. The picture covers an area on the sky equal to 8 full moons.

It is easy to think that celestial objects like the three in this image are located at the same distance from Earth, as if they were placed on the dome of a planetarium. In reality, objects that appear close together on the sky can actually be quite far apart. In this case, NGC 1491 and BFS 34 are part of the same cloud complex located at a distance of about 10,700 light-years away in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. SH 2-209 is farther away at about 16,000 light-years distance, located in the outer arm of the Milky Way. NGC 1491 can be seen in visible light with an optical telescope. In contrast, SH 2-209 disappears completely in visible light, obscured by dust.

Although they are not structurally associated with each other, the nebulae do have much in common. All three are members of the same family of objects called HII regions by astronomers. HII regions are created when ultraviolet radiation from hot stars ionizes the surrounding gas, causing it to glow in visible light. The surrounding dust is also heated by this radiation and we see it glow in infrared light. These regions are well known for being places where new stars are born. In this image, the star cluster [BDS2003] 65 is developing within the SH 2-206 nebula. The bright spot in the center of BFS 34 nebula is the growing star cluster [BDS2003] 63.

Color in this image represents specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent wavelengths of 3.4 and 4.6 microns, respectively. In this image, most of the light emitted at these wavelengths is from hot stars. Green and red represent 12- and 22-micron light, which is mainly from warm dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-018

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

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 1491 SH 2-209 BFS 34 BDS2003 65 BDS2003 63
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Star Formation

Distance

Universescale1
1,200 light years
Wise_wise2011-018_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 4h 6m 12.7s
DEC = 51° 15’ 22.9”
Orientation
North is 0.2° CW
Field of View
2.1 x 1.1 degrees
Constellation
Perseus

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_wise2011-018_1280
×
ID
WISE2011-018
Subject Category
B.4.1.2.  
Subject Name
NGC 1491, SH 2-209, BFS 34, BDS2003, 65, BDS2003, 63
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
1,200
Redshift
-
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-018
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
61.5527223, 51.2563556
Reference Dimension
5500.0, 2830.0
Reference Pixel
2751.0, 1416.0
Scale
-0.000381907, 0.00038190724
Rotation
-0.15
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
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/WISE2011-018
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
×

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

×
Universescalefull
1,200 light years