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Table of Scorpius: In the first bend of Scorpius, also sometimes called "The Table of Scorpius" there is an anormous nebular landscape, which is quite often overlooked by observers. It is marked by the Open Custer NGC 6231 to be seen at the lower edge of the image. In the left upper corner is IC 4628, also called Prawn Nebula, the brighter part of a tremendous emission nebula with wonderful features typical of starforming regions. One of the most impressive is the cometary globule at the lower right, also called the Dark Tower of Scorpius.

What makes this image so interesting is that different phases of star formation are combined in it. The cometary globule shows one of the first stages as such the proto-stars are still enshrouded in their dust and gas birth cradle with some showing their existence only by strong radiation reflected from the dust clouds (see the small reflection nebulae).
The next phase can be studied at the left part of the image. Very bright young stars have party blown away the sourrounding dust and excite the hygrogen gas, from which they were born, to glow in the red H-alpha line of their spectrum.
Finally at the bottom is the Open Cluster NGC 6231 with very bright and hot stars which have already blown away their dust and gas environment completely, but still send out shockwaves of particles and radiation, which then excite more distant regions like for instance the shock fronts at the left hand side of the cometary nebula.
In a few million years then the Open Cluster will have dissolved and its stars will have drifted away to disperse in space.

Check the Hi-res version to have a closer look at an RGB-image of the cometary nebula.


Object The Table of Scorpius
Category Nebulae
Designation NGC 6231, IC 4628
Constellation Scorpius
Optics TMB 130 f/6 with Field Flattener
Mount Astro-Physics 900 GTO
Camera SBIG STL 11000M with internal CFW 5
Exposure 2 sets of 5(6) x 20min (1x1 bin) Baader H-alpha (7nm) filter, 3 x 10min each (1x1 bin) Astrodon True Balance RGB filterset. Maxim DL for image acquisition
Calibration Dark Frame
Guiding Selfguiding
Processing Maxim DL5, Photoshop. Color Code L:Ha,R:Ha/R, GB
Location-Date Somerset West, South Africa - 29+30 March, 22 April 2009
Remark Two panel mosiac
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