A large southern emission nebula, IC 2948
AAO image reference AAT 108.    « Previous || Next »

A large southern emission nebula, IC 2948 and IC 2944, ic2948.jpg, ic2944.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 47 arc min
Image and text © 2000-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

Between the Southern Cross and the rich Carina region, on the southern border of Centaurus, is a large, almost featureless emission nebula, IC 2948, with a sprinkling of bright stars, Collinder 249. It is against this uniform, backdrop that we see a brighter region (IC 2944) which hosts small group of dark clouds of the kind known as 'Bok globules'. They are named for the Dutch-American astronomer who first drew attention to them as the possible sites of star formation.

As one might expect with such a description there are young stars scattered through the nebula and these stars are responsible for its existence. the stars only 10 million years old and the hydrogen they illuminate seems to be unusually thinly spread and very uniform, so the nebula is both faint and extensive. It is also quite distant, about 6000 light years and is only two degrees from the Galactic plane, so there are many foreground stars.

Related Images
AAT 77.  The Bok globules in IC 2948
Constellation of Centaurus (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1