Call it a garden of cosmic proportions: Blooming against the blackness of space are no less than five stellar nebulas and two star clusters, captured by night sky photographer Terry Hancock.
This panoramic view of a region in the Auriga constellation is blossoming with cosmic activity. In view are the Flaming Star Nebula (IC405), the Tadpoles (IC410), the star cluster known as The Spider (IC417) and The Fly Nebula (NGC1931), Messier open clusters M36 and M38 (which is also known as the Starfish Cluster), and emission Nebulae Sh2-232 and its smaller companions.
Near the top right of the image is the comma-shaped Flaming Star Nebula, named for its fire-like look. The burning heart of this nebula is the star AE Aurigae, which was likely born in a different stellar cluster and booted out by a collision with two other stars.
The large, spherical cloud in the far left of the image is the emission nebulas Sh2-232, accompanied by its smaller companions Sh2-231 and Sh2-235.
Near the lower-middle region of the image is a small nugget of light called NGC 1931, also known as The Fly. Just up and to the right is NGC 1931, another bright collection of stars surrounded by spindly threads of gas, known as The Spider. Each of these objects are young, open star clusters still nestled in clouds of hydrogen gas.
Hancock has photographed some of these objects individually, but for this image he took on the challenge of imaging a wider range of sky. From his backyard observatory in Fremont, Michigan, Hancock create the image over two nights, with a total integration time of 384 minutes.
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