• Chris Baker

Object of the Month: The WIZARD

Each month I highlight one of my images - giving more background to what you are looking at and how Photographed it. This month it is the Wizard Nebula.

My Image of the beautiful Wizard Nebula

About The Wizard

You are looking at a cluster of young stars recently born and still embedded in a vast area of gas, dust and plasma known as the Wizard Nebula.

The intricate nebulosity from the image.

Catalogued as NGC 7380 The Wizard is located in the constellation Cepheus about 7,000 light-years from Earth within our Milky Way Galaxy. The whole Nebula spans an enormous 110 light years. This kind of nebulae are the birthplace of stars known as ‘stellar nurseries’. They are formed when diffuse molecular clouds start to collapse under their own gravity, often due to the influence of a nearby supernova explosion. Parts of the cloud collapse in fragments, sometimes forming hundreds of new stars. The newly-formed stars ionize the surrounding gas to produce an emission nebula which in this case is ‘The Wizard’

Some of these stars have been born from the clouds

The stars of NGC 7380 have emerged from its cloud some 5 million years or so ago, making it a relatively young cluster. And, although the nebula may last only a few million years, some of the stars being formed may outlive our Sun.

The Wizard Nebula is ionized by the binary star (one star orbiting another star making a ‘system’) together with the many young energetic stars within the cluster. They make the nebula that surrounds them glow and their winds and radiation sculpt clouds of gas and dust into the mountainous ridges seen here.

Imaging The Wizard

This object is extremely faint from Earth and not much light is reaching the telescope and camera. In addition it emits light at specific wavelengths associated with certain ionized states of gases.

I use specialist filters which capture certain emissions from these gases, in this case Hydrogen Alpha (Ha), Oxygen III (OIII) and Sulphur II (SII). Using my telescope and cameras I captured 10’s of hours of data through these three filters over many nights. Each exposure was 25 minutes and at the end of each night I discard the sub optimal images, such as when the seeing conditions were not perfect or a satellite crossed the field of view. Over time I build up the data for each filter and eventually have enough to start the long process of calibration and processing.

During this process I want to extract the beautiful detail that exists buried within the raw data and at the same time make it look stunning for the Galaxy on Glass range. I use a convention to assign the colours developed for the Hubble Space telescope. This means that I assign the SII to the red channel, Ha to the green and OIII to the blue channel. You will see in this picture that there is a lot of blue, meaning the object is emitting a lot of light associated with the ionized Oxygen. Using this convention shows rich blues and golds and the wispy details of the nebulosity.

If you would like to see the availability of The Wizard then pop along to the shop right: here

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