M78 Stellar Birthplace

Messier 78 is the other (IMHO) “great” nebula in Orion, sitting just above Orion’s belt.

M78 and its companion nebulae NGC2064, NGC2967, and NGC2071 are reflection nebulae in the Orion B molecular cloud. Reflection nebulae are where surrounding gas and dust is illuminated by stars.

My image of M78 has been honored as Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day on December 4, 2021…

They are usually blue in color, and for the same reasons our home world skies are blue. The curvilinear shapes are carved out by the stellar wind of some very energetic stars. Towards the bottom of the image are some red stars, colored this way due to the large amounts of dust between them and us.

M78 is the bright area in the center of the image. To the right of this, there is a swirl of dust that looks just like the eye-wall of a hurricane, and the side lighting gives some 3-D information about the structure.

To the lower left there is a dark nebula containing 17 Herbig-Haro Objects, energetic jets that signify infant stars switching on. M78 is 1,350 light years away from earth.

I shot this image over six nights from the New Mexico desert, M78 still being a late riser, so this image was shot at low elevation in the early hours of the morning. This is a full-frame image with minimal cropping at 2560mm focal length @ f7.

After the pesky moon is out of the way, I’m going to continue to collect data on this subject.

Tech stuff:
Scope : Planewave CDK14
Mount : Planewave L-350
Camera : ZWO ASI 6200 MM Pro ZWO filter wheel Astronomik filters
24 x 10 min Red
20 x10 min Green
18 x10 min Blue
All unguided. Darks no flats.
Shot as Bin 1 downsampled to Bin 2×2 in Pixinsight

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