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Spaghetti Nebula

Submitter: Albert van Duin
Description: In the constellation of Taurus there is a huge but very faint nebula complex spanning 3 degrees, or about 6 full Moons. These intricate filaments are the remains of a supernova explosion that happened between 30,000 and 100,000 years ago. The beautiful wisps of debris are not the only thing left; there is also a pulsar designated PSR J0538+2817, the fast-spinning ultra-dense remnant of a star that exploded long ago. The diameter of the nebula is about 42 parsecs (137 light-years) and it's around 3000 light-years away and still expanding at about 900 km/s.

The nebula is so faint that it was not discovered until 1952 when G.A Shajn and V.E. Hase discovered it at the Simeis Crimean Astrophyical Observatory using a 25" (65cm) Schmidt camera. It was number 147 in their catalog, so it was called Simeis 147 but it also known as Sharpless 2-240 or "Spaghetti Nebula".

Around the same time it was independently found on red plates taken with the 48" (120cm) Oschin Schmidt camera at Mount Palomar.

Nowadays it is possible to image this extremely faint nebula using a small telescope from a backyard in a town or even from a city, using narrowband H-Alpha filters to block the light pollution. The accompanying image was made using a 20cm F/2.8 Newtonian astrograph and shows only the brightest parts of the nebula, about 1/6 of the total area. 24 - 10 minute integrations with a cooled 8.3 megapixel CCD camera and a 7nm bandwith H-Alpha filter were made from my backyard Beilen. More images can be found at http://astropix.nl
Copyright: Albert van Duin
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