Bird, wildlife, and landscape photography by Jon Rista
Dark and Dusty – Snake Nebula
When the Milky Way rolls around during the summer, a number of intriguing objects appear that are not visible at any other time of the year: Dark Nebula silhouetted against the backdrop of billions of stars packed into the core of our galaxy. Dark dust is an interesting player in the plethora of things that permeate space. They block light coming from behind, rather than emit it. When stars are nearby, they reflect it, creating reflection nebula. They absorb light, then re-emit it at a lower frequency in the infrared spectrum and deep red visible light, creating a deep red weave throughout the reaches of the galaxy. They form some of the most intriguing shapes as well.
The featured image here is of a region of space along the western edge of the summer Milky Way, as seen from the northern hemisphere, where large regions of dark dust reach outwards from the core and into the beautiful complex of stars, gasses, dust and reflections that comprise Scorpio. Among these regions of dust are small shapes, including Snake Nebula. This sinuous, curling filament of blackness truly does take on an insideous form, the curled body of a snake with a clearly defined head, and even a tongue! It shares the region with a variety of other dusty shapes and forms, as well as a small planetary nebula (very small, upper left) and a golden colored star cluster (upper right). A large, bright an faintly blue star glows near the bottom. The entire region plays out over an extensive backdrop of countless warm golden stars from the greater regions of our galaxy.