Embedded in the western edge of the Perseus Molecular Cloud is the reflection nebula NGC 1333. The Perseus Molecular Cloud is a large area of of dust and gas which is about 600 light years away. Astronomers estimate that the amount of dust and gas in the Perseus Molecular Cloud would be sufficient to create 10,000 stars of the mass of our Sun. The Perseus Molecular Cloud is about 3 times larger than the field shown here and continues to the east and north. NGC 1333 is considered to be a reflection nebula. The blue-white light from the central star is being reflected from the dust and gas behind the star. Closely associated with the NGC 1333 reflection nebula are areas of dense dust and gas which are areas of star formation.
In addition to NGC 1333, there are multiple Herbig-Haro objects in the field [the small orange and red areas which are the sites of stars being formed] and the two additional VdB reflection nebula – VdB 12, a yellow reflection nebula, at 2 o’clock to NGC 1333 and VdB 31, a blue reflection nebula, at 5 o’clock to NGC 1333 – were also nice additions to the frame.
The photons for this image were captured on the night of November 6, 2018 from the Anza-Borrego State Park, San Diego County, CA. I used the Takahashi FSQ-106 EDX IV telescope with the dedicated Takahashi f/3 reducer. The camera was a ZWO ASI1600MM-Cooled with the gain = 76 and the offset = 15. Exposure times were 52 x 120 seconds for each of the R, G and B color channels.
Image calibration, alignment and stacking were done with PixInsight. PixInsight’s LocalNormalization tool was used in the integration of each color channel. A local normalization reference for each of the color channels was created by combining 10 of the best frames in each color and then designated that reference when using the LocalNormalization tool. The resulting R, G and B channels were balanced using the LinearFit tool before combination to create the color image. Two iterations of PixInsight’s AutomaticBackgroundExtractor tool were used. The MultiscaleLinearTransform tool was used to attenuate noise and then the HistogramTransformation tool was used. The image was saved as a 16 bit TIFF for export to Photoshop CC. Color adjustments and further histogram manipulations were performed with Photoshop.
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