The Rosette Nebula,
NGC 2244

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NGC 2244

The Rosette Nebula

This week we return to our home galaxy and look at one of the most massive nebula in the Milky Way. NGC 2244 is actually a star cluster that is surrounded by a giant cloud of dust and gas from which the stars in the cluster were formed.

As seen from Earth, the Rosette Nebula is about 1 degree in diameter which is about twice the apparent size of the full moon. It is said to be visible to the naked eye from very dark locations but strange as it seems, it is very difficult to see, even in large telescopes, because of the very low surface brightness.

The remaining gas cloud contains the mass of about 10,000 Suns and is still in the process of forming new stars. It has an actual diameter of about 130 light years and is at a distance of about 2600 light years. As a reference, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across and the nearest galaxy is about one million light years distant.



Detail of lower portion of above photo.
Of great interest in the Rosette Nebula are the numerous dark lanes and patches of obscuring matter, in particular, the so-called Bok Globules. These are the smallest of the dark spots whose size are on the order of the size of the Solar System. They are believed to be new stars in the process of formation. The arrow points to one such globule.

Technical Details of photo:

This photo was a 30 minute exposure on hypered Techpan taken with the 16" Newt. It was clouded out about half way through the exposre but a useful photo was acquired in spite of this.

The object is so large that it completely fills the field of the 16" and the actual edge of the nebula is obscured by the fall-off in illumination at the edges of the field. A better option would have been to center the Bok Globules in the field to maximize their resolution and use the astrograph for the wide field view. Unfortunately, El Nino and now the moon have made more photos impossible this year.

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