The Merope Nebulosity (Part of M 45)

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About this Image

This image is centered on Merope, one of the main stars of the famous Pleiades cluster (M 45) in Taurus, known for the faint blue reflection components.
New velocity measurements suggest that the Merope Nebula is not associated with the Pleiades cluster itself. Barentine and Esquerda were also able to calculate the space motion of the Nebula, using proper motions recently measured by B. Jones (Lick Observatory). The Merope Nebula is not only kinematically distinct from the Pleiades cluster, but also from T Tauri stars in the nearby Taurus-Aurigae clouds. The Merope nebula does not contain protostars, it may just be a large clump of dust, and its morphology may result from radiation pressure from nearby Merope. In the lower left corner there is the bright star Alcyone.

In 1891, E. E. Barnard visually identified a small knot of condensation within the Pleiades nebulosity, just 36" south-southeast of the bright star Merope. The knot is some 15 brighter than the brightest areas of the reflection nebula, and has a diameter of just a few arc seconds, with two arms, in total 10'' long, directed away from Merope. The knot is known as "Barnard's Merope Nebula" and was later cataloged as IC 349.
Observation and imaging of IC 349 is very difficult because of Merope's brightness and close distance.
North is up-left.

Below you see a 100% crop on IC349 with a Hubble Space Telescope image insert.

Technical Details


16" Cassegrain at f/10

Mount MK-100 GEM
Camera SBIG STL-11000M at -25C, internal filter wheel
Filters Astronomik LRGB
Date Oct 26, 2004.
Location Wildon/Austria
Sky Conditions mag 5 sky, raw FWHM 1.9", temperature 10 C,
Exposure LRGB= 60:20:20:20 min (10-minute sub-exposures)
all 1x1.
Processing Image aquisition in Maxim DL 4.11; Image calibration, aligning, mean stacking, DDP and color synthesis in Maxim;
Photoshop: Curves, color balance, cropped, Noise reduction by Neatimage;