Witch Head Nebula from Grand Mesa Observatory
Captured over two nights in December 2018, this image of the Witch Head Nebula, IC 2118, highlights the delicate beauty of this faint reflection nebula. (Post-processing and image capture by Terry Hancock and Tom Masterson)
Reflection nebula differ from emission nebula based on how the light they send to the observer is transmitted. In reflection nebula, such as the Witch Head Nebula, light from nearby stars is bounced off gas and dust and then sent out in space like a mirror reflecting an image. With emission nebula nearby bright stars excite gas that causes them to shed an electron-producing light like a light bulb filament excited by electricity.
At around 1,000 light-years distant, the Witch Head Nebula resides in the constellation Orion from our perspective on Earth. It is believed to be the remnant of an ancient supernova or a gas cloud illuminated by the supergiant star Rigel, which is out of frame to the lower right. Radio observations show substantial carbon monoxide emission throughout parts of the Witch Head Nebula, an indicator of the presence of molecular clouds and star formation in the nebula. In fact, candidates for pre-main-sequence stars similar to our sun and some classic T-Tauri stars have been found deep within the nebula.
Witch Head Wiki: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IC_2118
The IC 2118 association: New T Tauri stars in high-latitude molecular clouds: adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004A%26A...418...89K
Grand Mesa Observatory, Whitewater (Purdy Mesa), Colo., U.S.A.
12/11/2018 and 12/15/2018
RGGB: 300sec x 60 with calibration frames
Optics: Takahashi E180
Mount: Paramount ME
Image Acquisition software: Maxim DL5
Pre-processed in PixInsight, Deep Sky Stacker
Post-processed in PixInsight, Photoshop, Straton