Friday, December 29, 2006

NGC 2024, The Flame Nebula

You usually see pictures of the Flame alongside it's famous neighbor, the Horsehead Nebula, and you usually see it in a bright red flaming (sorry) color. Well, that red color comes from ionized hydrogen, and it's a specific wavelength that my stock Canon 350D is virtually blind to (and is going to remain that way since I don't want to spend the $350 to have an internal filter removed from the camera). So instead, here's a closeup of the flame without the red.

Information from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day:
Explanation: What lights up the Flame Nebula? Fifteen hundred light years away towards the constellation of Orion lies a nebula which, from its glow and dark dust lanes, appears like a billowing fire. But fire, the rapid acquisition of oxygen, is not what makes this Flame glow. Rather the bright star Alnitak, the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion visible to the nebula's right, shines energetic light into the Flame that knocks electrons away from the great clouds of hydrogen gas that reside there. Much of the glow results when the electrons and ionized hydrogen recombine. … The Flame Nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a star-forming region that includes the famous Horsehead Nebula.

I don't have all the exposure details, but it's 30 frames stacked from the 10" LX200 @ f/6.3 and Canon 350D.

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