Each month I highlight one of my images - giving more background to what you are looking at and how I photographed it. February 2024 I have chosen The Cosmic Tadpoles.
My Image of The Cosmic Tadpoles
About The Tadpoles
Catalogued as IC 410, this enormous cloud is a star forming region in the direction of the constellation Auriga, The Charioteer. It is estimated to be 12,400 light years away.
The glowing cloud is over 100 light years across - to put this in perspective our Solar System is less than one light year in diameter. The stellar wind – energy being pumped out from the young hot stars - is crafting it’s shape. You can see some of the intricate details in this image.
In and around the centre of the cloud you can see a number of these young stars which are truly babies at around 4 million years old. In contrast, our Sun is over 4.5 billion years old. This open cluster of young stars is catalogued as NGC 1893.
Then of course we have the Tadpoles - these long streamers of hot glowing dust and gas are intense star forming regions. They themselves are over 10 light years in length.
You are looking a stellar nursery!
Imaging The Cosmic Tadpoles
An image such as this requires many tens of hours of exposure to get the detail you can see here. In this case I imaged through a range of filters for nearly 50 hours. To build up the data I take what are called ‘sub frames’ or images of a shorter duration, which I can later stack together using astronomy software. The sub frames for the Tadpoles were 25 minutes each. After a night of imaging I review the results frame by frame and reject those that are not perfect. (Imperfections are typically caused by poor seeing, aircraft or satellites passing across the frame or software or hardware issues). I ended up with 35 hours of perfect sub frames for the Tadpoles.
I used three filters to image the Tadpoles, each designed to capture the emissions of certain ionized gasses. These are Sulphur II, Oxygen III and Hydrogen Alpha.
The next stage is a calibration routine which eliminates the unwanted artefacts caused by long duration exposures. Finally, I spend a long time processing the data to bring out the beauty and detail.
In this case it is one of the most beautiful images I have captured and created.
I hope you will get much pleasure from this image and the way it is presented as a piece of art. There are so many beautiful objects to enjoy in deep space!
To see all options for The Cosmic Tadpoles HERE
I hope you love this piece and have one on your wall! Chris Baker.