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IC5146 - Cocoon Nebula in Cygnus

IC5146 - Cocoon Nebula in Cygnus

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RGB: 7x5min each (2x2)
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Anacortes Telescope and Wild Bird Picture of the Day October 15, 2010

The Cocoon Nebula (IC5146, Caldwell 19, Sh2-125) is located about 4,000 light years away and spans 15 light years. Inside the Cocoon is a newly developing open cluster of about 20 stars (Collinder 470, and not IC 5146 as referenced elsewhere). The Cocoon Nebula is a combination of emission, reflection, and absorbtion nebulae. Recent theory holds that the massive star BD +46°3474 in the center of the nebula opened a hole in an existing molecular cloud through which much of the glowing material flows. The same star, which formed about 100,000 years ago, now provides the energy source for much of the emitted and reflected light from this nebula.

This beautiful, very dim and usually difficult object lies at the end of a path of dark nebula Barnard 168 (B168) - also known as LDN 1035 and 1045 - that is very obvious on widefield images and can be seen with binoculars in a dark sky starting about 3 degrees east-southeast of open cluster M39. This dark lane can be seen in this image trailing away westward from the Cocoon.

October 7, 2010