The heart of the Heart Nebula

The three bright stars are O and B type giants (20-100 times more massive than our sun) of the Melotte 15 open cluster.  Stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation from these massive stars has sculpted the twisted tree-like structure in the image from within the centre of the extremely large cloud of ionised hydrogen gas that makes up the Heart Nebula (IC 1805) located in the Persius spiral arm of our galaxy.

Right ascension: 02h 33m 50s | Declination: +61° 26' 03" | Distance: 7,500 Light Years
Field of view: 34 x 25 arcmin

Camera: Atik 314L+
Telescope: William Optics Megrez 120 F/7.5
Filters: Baader Ha (7nm), OIII (8.5nm), SII (8nm)
Exposures: Ha 28 x 10 min; OIII 44 x 10 min; SII 30 x 10 min
Total exposure: 17 hours
Image composition: LRGB (Ha, SII, Ha, OIII)
Scale: 1.48 arcsec/pixel
Image acquired: 24 & 25 Dec 2010; 8, 9, 18, 20 & 28 Jan 2011 from Bristol (UK)

Image capture and guiding with MaxIm DL; Image processed with MaxIm DL, AIP4Win, Photoshop CS4