Pictures of the Heart and Soul Nebulae
Images of the Heart and Soul Nebulae and facts about these two star-forming regions in Cassiopeia.
The Heart Nebula, also known as IC 1805, is an emission nebula located 7,500 lightyears away in the Cassiopeia constellation.
The term 'emission' means that the cosmic gas that forms the nebula is actually glowing itself, rather than reflecting starlight (as is the case with a reflection nebula).
Over the years IC 1805 has been designated as the 'Heart Nebula' due to its resemblance to the shape of a human heart.
The stars of Melotte 15 are blasting the surrounding hydrogen and causing it to emit light, powering the Heart Nebula's beautiful glow.
The Soul Nebula
The Heart Nebula is often imaged with IC 1848, which is known as the Soul Nebula. It's also located in Cassiopeia and is 6,500 lightyears away.
The Soul Nebula is a cloud of cosmic gas and dust 150 lightyears wide that's being illuminated and carved by powerful streams of charged particles emanating from an open cluster of stars.
Like the Heart Nebula, it too is an emission nebula.
The Heart and Soul Nebulae are both located in the Perseus arm of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and together stretch about 600 lightyears across.
These star-forming regions are a popular target for astrophotographers, who love capturing the Heart and Soul together in one shot.
Below is a selection of images of the Heart and Soul Nebulae captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers.
If you're already a seasoned nebula astrophotographer, read our guide on how to use Photoshop masks to fine-tune nebula astrophotos.