This stunning image is part of the diffuse emission Gamma Cygni nebula, otherwise known as The Butterfly Nebula.
Astrophotographer Terry Hancock took this image as part of his mosaic of the Gamma Cygni region. The image was taken from his backyard observatory in Fremont, Michigan on May 29. "We have had some wonderful clear skies over here in West Michigan in the past week," Hancock wrote in an email to Space.com.
In this image, one can see the Gamma Cygni Nebula or IC1318A in the upper left. The namesake star of the region, the Gamma Cygni, sit amid the constellation of Cygnus the Swan. Although it sits at a distance of 1,800 light-years, this young star is an extremely bright supergiant. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). [Amazing Night Sky Photos for June]
"In the study and classification of stars, Gamma Cygni served as an invaluable point of reference in contrast to other stars, allowing early astrophysicists the ability to develop an understanding of stellar evolution and a codified system of classifying all stars," Hancock added.
Hancock used a QHY11S monochrome CCD cooled to -20 C and a Takahashi E-180 F2.8 Astrograph on a Paramount GT-1100S German Equatorial Mount to take the image. Multiple exposures are made to collect enough light for an image that would otherwise not be evident to the eye.
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