The Witch's Broom or Western Veil Nebula (NGC 6960)

Posted by Rod Pommier
on Thursday, October 13, 2011

by Rod Pommier

Telescope/Mount: Celestron Compustar C14 with 0.75x focal reducer (f/8). Camera: SBIG STL 11000M. Filters: Baader Planetarium LRGB. Exposures: LRGB=205:35:35:35 minutes=5 hours:10 minutes total exposure. Five minute sub-exposures, color data binned. Self-guided. Location: Pommier Observatory, Portland, OR, USA. Dates: 2011-08-01 through 2011-08-06.


NGC 6960 (Sharpless 103), is the western portion of The Veil Nebula. It is the remnant of a supernova that occurred 10-15,000 years ago and is the counterpart of NGC 6992, the Eastern Veil Nebula. NGC 6960 is also known as the Witch's Broom Nebula.  Its amazing filamentary structure may be due to compression of expanding shells of gas as they meet the resistance of the interstellar medium. The fact that what we view as "empty" space is actually filled with a great deal of invisible dark dust is evidenced by the fact that more background stars are visible below the nebula than above it. This is because the shock wave has swept the region below the nebula clear of the interstellar dust, letting more stars shine through. The bright star, 52 Cygni, is a type K star and is actually a foreground star that is not physically associated with the nebula. 


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