D. Heilman Astrophotography

NGC7023 - Iris Nebula

Space if far from empty.  In addition to the copious amount of gas that permeates the intragalactic medium, space is full of dust.  These particles range in size and composition, much of which is 50-500 micrometer sized porous matter composed of various silicon compounds, water ice, and many different organic molecules including more complex hydrocarbons.  Massive clouds of this dust form prominent lanes in galaxies and can obscure direct observation of many objects within them, including in our own Milky Way.  This image shows one of the more dusty areas in the sky in the constellation of Cepheus.  Within the dust and gas is a class B2Ve (very young) triple binary star system (HD 200775), whose light is scattered off of the surrounding dust reflecting the deep blue-white hues of this class of large and luminous star.   In addition to capturing the typical RGB channels, I added Ha to the mix as more recent infrared data indicates that irradiated hydrocarbons in the nebula also contribute to more reddish tones that can be picked up by a hydrogen filter.  This gives the Iris nebula a slight violet hue in its final processed image to accentuate the wonderful details revealed by the illuminated dust in the "petals" of this cosmic flower that lends its namesake.