Rho Ophiuchi Region in Monochrome

The Rho Ophiuchi region is a confused mass of gas and dust just above Antares and the head of Scorpio. This extensive nebula complex is far larger than the single frame shown here, extending far to the east into Sagittarius.

Rho Ophiuchi itself is the triple star seen here at the top center of the image, at the center of a bright reflection nebula. The double at lower center is Iota Scorpii and the star Al Niyat is on the right side. Also notable are the dark clouds of dust and gas that block the light of the stars and nebula behind creating black voids in the starfield.

This area is quite colorful, with both the blues of reflection nebulae and the reds of emission nebulae. I have gathered some color data but need more before assembling a proper color image of this region.

The Rho Ophiuchi region in monochrome
The Rho Ophiuchi region in monochrome

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

One thought on “Rho Ophiuchi Region in Monochrome”

  1. Thank you for this, Andrew. Rho Oph was a big part of my PhD thesis. I looked at ices forming in that region, mainly CO and H2O but tried to figure out what other molecules had frozen out on dust grains surrounding the stars being born in this cloud. Some of those molecules cannot be directly observed from Earth-based telescopes but influence the CO and water-ice features which can be observed from the ground.

    It’s important to understand this because hydrogen is difficult to detect so we often use gas-phase CO to create maps of star forming regions. However, if much of the CO is frozen on dust grains, you’ll never create an accurate map. In addition, those ice-covered grains are likely to have formed comets just like we see in our solar system.

    It’s not glamorous work but very important in figuring out how solar systems form and how life might be created.

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