Waid Observatory

Object: Sh2-277 - The Flame Nebula

Date: Jan. 12, 2023   -    Location: Davis Mountains west of Fort Davis, TX
Telescope: 10 inch RC    -    Mount: Paramount MX   -  Camera: Apogee Alta F8300M
Exposure: Red, Green, Blue = 30x5 min. each - Bin 1x1

Click on the image to view at higher resolution.


Sh2-277 - The Flame Nebula

The Flame Nebula (Sh2-277 / NGC 2024)[1] is located in the constellation Orion the Hunter approximately 1,350 light years distant[4].  The bright star at the lower right in the image is the eastern most star of Orion's belt[1].  This star is designated Zata Orionis[3].  Its common name is Alnitak and is the 5th brightest star in Orion[3].  The intense ultraviolet radiation from Alnitak is the illuminating source of the Flame Nebula[1].

The Flame Nebula gets its name from its unique shape and color.  It has also been referred to as the Burning Bush Nebula.  It is home to a very young cluster of stars[4] that are predominately hidden by the dark dust clouds traversing the bright nebula.  Infrared and X-ray observations are able to penetrate the dust clouds and reveal the hidden cluster.  The stars in the center of the cluster are estimated to be only 200,000 years old while the stars on the outer portion of the cluster are about 1.5 million years old[4].  A majority of these young stars have circumstellar discs[2].  These disks are known to be the birthplace of asteroids, comets, and even planets[5].  Our own Earth was born in such a disc.

1Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flame_Nebula
2E. K. Haisch Jr., et al: https://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0006219.pdf
3Alnitak: https://www.star-facts.com/alnitak/
4Constellation Guide: https://www.constellation-guide.com/flame-nebula/
5ESA Hubble: https://esahubble.org/wordbank/circumstellar-disc/

Copyright Donald P. Waid