A Crimson Nursery

RCW 120, also known as Sharpless 2-3, is an emission nebula and star-forming region located in the constellation Scorpius, about 4300 light-years away from Earth. The glowing nebula was captured here by the SMARTS 0.9-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. 

This HII region shines in the red color of ionized hydrogen gas. Immense heat generated from young, massive stars within energizes the gas, that then releases light in deep red and infrared wavelengths. The dark lanes in the nebula are less energized areas and thus do not appear to glow despite being made of the same material. Within the gas, bright stars are a common sight in emission nebulae, and are responsible for fusing together light elements to form many of the heavier elements in the cosmos, such as silicon and iron. RCW 120, however, houses an unusual embryonic star – one that is expected to become one of the brightest in our galaxy.

Credit:

CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab)
Image processing: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab) & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab) 

About the Image

Id:iotw2230a
Type:Observation
Release date:July 27, 2022, noon
Size:1693 x 1926 px

About the Object

Name:RCW 120
Distance:5479 light years
Constellation:Scorpius
Category:Nebulae

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.8 MB
Screensize JPEG
400.3 KB

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Coordinates

Position (RA):17 12 28.80
Position (Dec):-38° 31' 44.38"
Field of view:11.33 x 12.88 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 179.6° left of vertical


Colors & filters

BandWave-lengthTele-scope
Optical
G
475 nmSMARTS 0.9-meter Telescope
Tek2K
Optical
R
656 nmSMARTS 0.9-meter Telescope
Tek2K
Optical
I
802 nmSMARTS 0.9-meter Telescope
Tek2K
Optical
H-alpha
656 nmSMARTS 0.9-meter Telescope
Tek2K