South of Antares, in the tail of the nebula-rich constellation Scorpius, lies emission nebula IC 4628.
Nearby hot, massive stars, millions of years young, radiate the nebula with invisible ultraviolet light, stripping electrons from atoms.
The electrons eventually recombine with the atoms to produce the visible nebular glow, dominated by the red emission of hydrogen.
At an estimated distance of 6,000 light-years, the region shown is about 250 light-years across, spanning an area equivalent to four full moons on the sky.
The nebula is also cataloged as Gum 56 for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum, but seafood-loving astronomers might know this cosmic cloud as The Prawn Nebula.(APOD)
Imaged with the 16" f3.75 Dream Astrograph.
Apogee Alta U-16M camera.
Ha - 25 min
RGB 6 minutes per channel
(Total of 43 minutes)
Imaged from Tivoli farm in Namibia June 2012.