This has got to be one of the most gorgeous images I’ve seen in quite some time! Taken by Russian ace astrophotographer Yuriy Toropin, this is an image of LDN1622, which he’s dubbed the Boogie Man nebula. And really, you can see why, can’t you?
This particular image was taken over 5 nights from a vantage point just South of Moscow, and the extra H-α goodness in the final image really does give it a creepy edge. Part of Lynd’s Dark Nebula catalogue, this image shows a dark nebula – an extremely cold cloud of dust and molecular gas drifting like a shadow through interstellar space. Clouds like these are often where stars begin to form, and the aura of red H-α light you can see all around the nebula is a telltale sign of newborn stars.
Given the scale of this, it’s quite likely that those two bright yellow looking stars in the image are giving off the ultraviolet light which is making that hydrogen glow (though I can’t say more offhand without checking the catalogies and finding out more about them). This small cloud, a mere(!) 10 light years long, is actually quite nearby too. 500 light years away might seem like a long distance, but at galactic scales that puts it right in our neighbourhood – a lot closer than the more familiar Orion nebula.
Image credit: Yuriy Toropin