Star Formation in the Heart of the Swan

Wise_wise2011-021_500

WISE_WISE2011-021 June 3rd, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured this image of a huge complex of star-forming clouds and stellar clusters found in the constellation Cygnus. Best known as a swan winging its way across the night, the constellation Cygnus is easily seen in the northern hemispheres summertime sky. The constellation is also commonly known as the Northern Cross. WISE zooms in on the region surrounding the swans heart, revealing vast clouds of dust that light up the sky in infrared. This image covers an area of the sky nearly ten times as wide as the full moon and nearly nine times as high (4.93 by 4.47 degrees).

The heart of the swan (or the center of the cross) is represented by the star Sadr, seen here as the bright yellow spot near the point where the green filaments in the upper part of the image converge and bend down towards the left. This stars name comes from the Arabic phrase Al Sadr al Dajjah, meaning the Hens Breast. Sadr is also known as Gamma Cygni because it is the third brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. Although Sadr is very bright in visible light, in infrared light it is overshadowed by surrounding clouds of dust and gas, including the nebulae IC 1318, LDN 889 and NGC 6888. Although it looks like Sadr is embedded in the nebulae, it is actually only 1,800 light years away whereas the nebula IC 1318 is much more distant at 4,900 light-years.

IC 1318 can be seen as the bright green and red clouds that curve to the left of Sadr. There are three distinct parts of this nebula that are identified as IC 1318 A, B and C. This nebula is considered an emission nebula because radiation from nearby stars heats the cloud, causing it to become ionized and emit visible light.

When viewed through optical telescopes, a black rift separates IC 1318 B and C. This dark area is known as LDN 889 and is classified as a dark nebula. In visible light, this cloud of dust obscures light from the stars behind it, making it appear as though there is a dark lane cutting through the sky. WISE detects this dust in infrared light so we can see it. LDN stand for Lynds Dark Nebula, which is a catalogue of dark nebula complied by astronomer B.T. Lynds.

On the opposite side of the WISE image, in the upper right quadrant, we can see a curved red cloud. This is another nebula, NGC 6888. More descriptively known as the Crescent nebula, this is another emission nebula. This nebula is ionized by a very hot, very massive type of star known as a Wolf-Rayet star, WR 136.

Scattered throughout this image are numerous stellar clusters of varying ages. One example is the star cluster Messier 29, which can be found to the left of center in the WISE image. Also known as M29 or NGC 6913, this is an open cluster of stars located approximately 3,700 light-years away.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-021

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

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Cygnus Milky Way Crescent Nebula NGC 6888 APOGEE
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Interstellar Medium
Nebula » Type » Star Formation
Nebula » Appearance » Emission
Nebula » Appearance » Dark
Wise_wise2011-021_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 20h 19m 47.9s
DEC = 38° 27’ 32.1”
Orientation
North is 23.9° CCW
Field of View
4.9 x 4.5 degrees
Constellation
Cygnus

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_wise2011-021_1280
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ID
WISE2011-021
Subject Category
B.4.1.1.   B.4.1.2.   B.4.2.1.   B.4.2.3.  
Subject Name
Cygnus, Milky Way, Crescent Nebula, NGC 6888, APOGEE
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-021
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
Reference Value
304.949769841, 38.458915350
Reference Dimension
6450, 5850
Reference Pixel
3225, 2925
Scale
-7.63888000000000e-04, 7.63888000000000e-04
Rotation
23.851232457
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/WISE2011-021
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.