Stunning Photo of Cosmic 'Cygnus Wall' Captured
Veteran astrophotographer Bill Snyder captured this image of the Cygnus Wall, which is the most active region of star formation in the North America Nebula.
NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
In a discovery announced on Sept. 4, 2013, a population of planetary nebulae near the galactic core appear to be, weirdly, preferentially aligned to the Milky Way's galactic plain. The nebulae, known as "bipolar" (or "butterfly") planetary nebulae are completely non-interacting and of various ages, suggesting some external force is shaping their orientation. It's thought that a powerful magnetic field may be the culprit.
The researchers used observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and ESO's New Technology Telescope, so here are a small selection of some stunning examples of bipolar planetary nebulae as seen through the eye of Hubble. Shown here is the stunning NGC 6302 -- an intricate example of a bipolar planetary nebula's butterfly wings.
Bruce Balick (University of Washington), Vincent Icke (Leiden University, The Netherlands), Garrelt Mellema (Stockholm University), and NASA/ESA
Hubble 5: A classically-shaped bipolar (or 'butterfly') planetary nebula.
ESA/Hubble & NASA
NGC 6881: A binary star possibly shapes this wonderfully symmetrical nebula.
NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
NGC 5189: A dramatic view of the ribbons of bright material being ejected from a planetary nebula.
A veteran astrophotographer captured this beautiful photo of the massive hot bed of star formation astronomers call the Cygnus Wall.
Photographer Bill Snyder created this image from more than 18 hours of observations in 2013 using his Heavens Mirror Observatory in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. He used a Planewave 17” telescope equipped with an Apogee U16 camera, as well as a Paramount ME mount and Astrodon Ha5nm, OIII3nm, SII5nmfilters, to capture the photo.
Located in the southern part of the North America nebula, the Cygnus Wall is one of the highest concentrations of star formations in the region. The North American Nebula, also known as NGC 7000, is approximately 1,800 light-years away from Earth and roughly 100 light-years in diameter. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). (Strange Nebula Shapes, What Do You See? (Photos))
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
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