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Saturday, September 29, 2012

NGC 7023: The Iris Nebula

As flimsy cosmic petals, these clouds of interstellar dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile star fields of the constellation Cepheid. Sometimes called the Iris Nebula and duly cataloged as NGC 7023, is not the only nebula in the sky to evoke the imagery of flowers.

This extraordinary image shows the range of colors and symmetries of the Iris Nebula in great detail. Among Iris , dusty nebular material surrounds a hot young star. The dominant color of the brighter reflection nebula is blue, characteristic of dust grains reflecting starlight. The Central filaments of the dusty clouds glow with a faint reddish photoluminescence caused by dust grains become radiation ultraviolet invisible star in visible red light.

The observations indicate that this nebula infrared may contain complex carbon molecules known as PAHs.
The bright blue part of the Iris Nebula is about six light-years across.

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