New star formation is happening inside the Cocoon Nebula. Hydrogen gas is glowing red from the energy produced by the hot young stars, while the dusty neighborhood is creating the blue reflection nebula visible in the frame. The bright center star is probably only a few hundred thousand years old.
The Cocoon Nebula (catalogued as IC 5146, dark nebula Barnard 168, and blue reflection nebula Van den Bergh 147 below right) sits in a crowded star field in Cygnus the swan near Lacerta. It is estimated to be about 4,000 light years away (pretty close) and 15 light years wide. There are 39,436 stars in the field above per Registar - quite a few.
Above image composed of 18 x 5 = 90 minutes total exposure from 9/25/2016 from Starry Nights in the Texas Hill Country. Nikon D810A camera, ISO 400, Takahashi TOA 130 (a 5" APO refractor) with the new reducer at 700mm and f5.4, and Astro-Physics AP 900GTO mount. I used my DSLR Workflow.
The image above is composed of a 190 minute exposure blend of my 2007 & 2016 Cocoon Nebula images. Combining the images helps smooth out the noise visible from the extreme "stretching" necessary to bring out this very dim object and the faint interstellar dust in the area.
This image shows the Cocoon Nebula, IC5146, in Cygnus. The blue reflection nebula on the lower right is Van den Bergh 147. The Cocoon is another very dim, challenging object to shoot with a DSLR. It's one of those objects that doesn't even show on a 4 minute exposure without processing! See below for more info
This wider view shows the dark nebula Barnard 168. Note that the Cocoon nebula is also categorized as Sh2-165.
Images above composed of 25 x 4 = 100 minutes total exposure captured 10/8/2007 from the Davis Mountains. Canon EOS 20Da (unmodified), ISO 1600, Takahashi TOA 130 (a 5" APO refractor) with flattener, and Astro-Physics AP 900GTO mount. I used my DSLR Workflow including the Lab technique to accentuate the colors and GradientXterminator.
I couldn't decide which image I preferred, this or the one on the top of the page... This one is more colorful but may have a bit more cyan than it should.
Other Pictures from the Davis Mountains are here
Messier Pictures, Images by Dick Locke
Dick Locke's Astrophoto Gateway page....
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