Wolf in sheep’s clothing

The Crescent Nebula

The Crescent Nebula, a huge cloud of gas illuminated from within by the intense radiation of a Wolf-Rayet star.

THIS IMAGE OF the Crescent Nebula or NGC 6888 was obtained using the Wide Field Camera on the Isaac Newton Telescope in the Canary Islands.

The Crescent Nebula is a cloud of gas illuminated by a central, massive Wolf-Rayet star, WR 136, whose intense outpouring of ultraviolet radiation is responsible for heating and ionising most of the gas ejected by the star earlier in its life.

Strong winds blown by WR 136 are interacting with the previously expelled material and as a result, the nebula shows a complex structure which resembles a crescent red Moon.

The image is a three-colour composite made from data collected using filters to isolate the light emitted by hydrogen alpha (H-alpha) and doubly ionised oxygen (OIII) atoms, and coded in the image as red, green (25% H-alpha and 75% OIII) and blue.

You can see the full-size, high-resolution image here (will open in a new window or tab)

Information courtesy IAC. Image obtained and processed by members of the IAC astrophotography group—A. Oscoz, D. López, P. Rodríguez-Gil and L. Chinarro.

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