The stars in open star cluster NGC 2244 are at the center of the Rosette Nebula. The gas in this nebula is contracting under the influence of gravity to form new stars. The stars in NGC 2244 formed from gas in this nebula only about 4 million years ago. The radiation from the new stars in this open cluster ionizes the surrounding hydrogen gas in the nebula to create an emission nebula by causing the gas to emit light. The center region of the nebula has a relatively clear area where the gas has been blown away by the hot stellar wind of the newly formed stars in the star cluster. NGC 2244 is about 4,500 light-years away. The Rosette Nebula still has gas with a total mass sufficient to form another 10,000 stars the size of our sun.
This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is an RGB CCD image taken with an SBIG ST-8E using data acquired on two consecutive nights with a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor telescope at prime focus with a reducer (f5.9). The optical tube assembly was carried by a Takahashi NJP mount.
RA: 06h 31m 55s Dec: +04d 56' 35" (J2000)
January 18 & 19, 2005
Image by Sid Leach
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