The Pacman Nebula (NGC 281)

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About this Image

The Pacman Nebula (NGC 281) is a complex area of star formation in Cassiopeia. Prominent features include a small open cluster of stars, a diffuse red-glowing emission nebula, large lanes of dark obscuring gas and dust, and dense knots of dust and gas in which stars may still be forming. The open cluster of stars IC 1590 visible around the center has formed only in the last few million years.
The brightest member of this cluster is actually a multiple-star system shining light that helps ionize the nebula's gas, causing the bright glow visible throughout. The lanes of dust visible left of center are likely homes of future star formation. Dark Bok globules are visible against the bright nebula. The NGC 281 system is situated in a distance of about 10 thousand light years.
North is up.

Find a narrowband version of this object: here.

Technical Details


16" cassegrain in secondary focus at f/10

Mount MK-100 GEM
Camera SBIG STL-11000M at -15-20C, internal filter wheel
Filters Baader RGB + Ha 7 nm
Date Aug 2008.
Location Wildon/Austria
Sky Conditions mag 5.5 sky, FWHM 1.5-2", temperature 13-20 C,
Exposure Ha= 480 min (30-minute sub-exposures); R:G:B= 40:40:40 min (10-minute sub-exposures)
all 1x1.
Programs used: Maxim DL 4.5; CCDstack; Fitsliberator; Photoshop CS3; Neatimage