NGC 2359

NGC 2359

Thor's Helmet

NGC 2359 is an emission nebula and reflection nebula. A massive, extremely hot Wolf-Rayet star emits a strong stellar wind that excites the gas in this nebula, causing it to glow faintly. The stellar wind from this young star has created a bubble around the Wolf-Rayet star. The amount of gas forming the nebula is estimated to be in excess of 20 solar masses. Wolf-Rayet stars were first described by Charles J. Wolf and Georges A. Rayet in 1867. These rare massive very luminous type O or B blue giant stars have temperatures between 25,000K and 50,000K degrees. These unsual active stars expell a stellar wind at velocities between 1,000 and 3,000 kilometers per second and have a mass loss rate of 4 to 10 solar masses per year. It is this incredible stellar wind that creates the envelope of gas that is characteristic of Wolf-Rayet stars. NGC 2359 has earned the nickname of Thor's Helmet because of its appearance.

This image is an RGB color composite CCD image taken at prime focus on a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor with an SBIG STL-11000M CCD. The exposures were taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona, over the course of two nights.

NGC 2359
Constellation: Canis Major
RA: 07h 18m 30s Dec: -13d 13' 30" (J2000)
January 18 & 20, 2009
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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