The twisted stellar clouds located in the center of the Heart Nebula are captured brilliantly in this cosmic valentine recently sent to Space.com by a veteran night sky photographer.
Astrophotographer Steve Coates captured this dynamic central region of the Heart Nebula from Ocala, Fla. The area is awash in radiation and cosmic wind from gigantic hot stars that make up newly-formed star cluster Melotte 15.
Coates imaged this photo using Ha, OIII and SII filters through the light-polluted skies of Ocala. An Astro-Tech 8" Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, Astro-Tech 8" Ritchey-Chrétien with Gemini II German equatorial mount were used to capture the image, which was processed using Hubble palette. [What Do You See? Strange Nebula Shapes (Photo Gallery)]
The Heart Nebula, also known as IC 1805 is located Galaxy about 7,500 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia in the northern region of our Milky Way. The nebula is nicknamed for its heart-like shape, which is not shown in this this close-up view, but relatively easy to see in wide-field views.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by Space.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.