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This image contains the Crescent Nebula NGC 6888 and surrounding nebulosity belonging to the γ Cygni Nebula Region.
Although it does look like a miniature version of the well-known Veil Nebula, NGC 6888 is in fact neither a supernova remnant nor a planetary nebula, but one of the rare Wolf-Rayet nebulae. As the name already suggests, at the heart of this nebula is a Wolf-Rayet star (the bright star located centrally within the nebula). These stars rank among the most massive and hottest stars known. Characteristic for Wolf-Rayet Stars are their strong stellar winds, approximately 2.000 kilometers per second, and the enormous mass-loss associated with them, they can lose an entire solar mass in only 10.000 years. The central star exhibits an absolute absolute magnitude of -4.4 mag, radiating thus 5.000 times more brightly as our sun, however the maximum energy output lies in the UV range.
The nebula is illuminated by two independent ionization procedures. One illumination source is the central star, which ionizes the nebula (particularly the [OIII] line) due to its strong UV emission. The other ionization source is the collision of the stellar winds with the dense interstellar medium, which results in an impact front, which in turn heats up the material.
Wolf-Rayet stars and their nebulae are short-lived phenomena (in astronomical timescales), these stars will erupt in supernovae during the next million years.
The surrounding area contains several patches of emission nebulosity. The brightest parts are designated LBN 215 (upper left), LBN 208 (upper right, filamentary structure) and LBN 193 (lower right) in Lynd's Bright Nebulae catalog.
NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula, Wide Field, in narrow-band filters, natural colors, which this image is part of.
NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula in Hα, Newtonian image.
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© 2012 Walter Koprolin