Valentine’s Day is upon us and it seems even celestial objects are celebrating the day of love. One such celestial formation is the Heart and Soul nebulae. As the name suggests, the Heart and Soul nebulae consist of an emission nebula named as the Heart Nebula due to its shape which was discovered by William Herschel on 3 November 1787. In case you didn’t know, A nebula is a giant cloud of dust and gas in space, according to NASA. These celestial objects exist in the space between stars, known as the Interstellar space.
Some nebulae originate from the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star while other nebulae are star-forming regions. NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a celebration of Valentine’s Day in the form of the Heart and the Soul Nebulae which are located about 6000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia. The picture was captured by Juan Lozano de Haro.
According to NASA, the nebula to the right is the Heart, designated IC 1805 and named after its resemblance to a human heart. To the left is the Soul nebula, also known as the Embryo nebula, IC 1848 or W5. The Perseus arm lies further from the center of the Milky Way than the arm that contains our sun.
NASA’s description of the picture
Is the heart and soul of our Galaxy located in Cassiopeia? Possibly not, but that is where two bright emission nebulae nicknamed Heart and Soul can be found. The Heart Nebula, officially dubbed IC 1805 and visible in the featured image on the upper right, has a shape reminiscent of a classical heart symbol. The shape is perhaps fitting for Valentine’s Day. The Soul Nebula is officially designated IC 1871 and is visible on the lower left.
Both nebulas shine brightly in the red light of energized hydrogen, one of three colors shown in this three-color montage. Light takes about 6,000 years to reach us from these nebulas, which together span roughly 300 light years. Studies of stars and clusters like those found in the Heart and Soul nebulas have focused on how massive stars form and how they affect their environment.