Deep in the Heart of Mordor - NGC 7293
This image is the result of almost 64 hours of narrowband data of the Helix Nebula, gathered over two months from suburban Melbourne. I extracted every bit of data to get the outer chevrons and filigree details to separate from the light pollution at my location. I was keen to show the OIII (doubly ionized oxygen) eye structures in the iris, so Photoshop masking was used to balance the overwhelming H-alpha signal and let the OIII present well. The Helix Nebula is so-named because it appears that you are looking down the axis of a helix. In reality, it is now understood to have a surprisingly complex geometry, including radial filaments and extended outer loops. The Helix Nebula is one of the brightest and closest examples of a planetary nebula, a gas cloud created at the end of the life of a sun-like star. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce.
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