NGC 2359 ~ Thor's Helmet!
Optics:   Ritchey–Chrétien 20" F/8.2 (4166mm FL) Processing:   PixInsight, Photoshop
Camera:   SBIG STXL-11000 with Adaptive Optics Date:   Nov-Dec 2020
11 Megapixel (4008 x 2672 16-bit sensor) Location:   Columbus, Texas
Exposure:   LRGB = 870:80:70:90 minutes Imager:   Kent E. Biggs
NGC 2359 is an emission nebula known as Thor’s Helmet due to its visual resemblance to its namesake. It lies about 12,000 to 16,000 light years away in the direction of the constellation Canis Major. Its central star, visible in the image above, is a Wolf-Rayet star and labeled WR7 as it is the 7th Wolf-Rayet star identified as such. WR7 shines at over 200,000 times as bright as our Sun with 13 times its mass and a surface temperature of over 100,000°C (180,000°F). The central star is likely nearing the end of its life when it will explode in one of the most energetic, catastrophic events in the universe, a supernova. At the moment, WR7 converts large amounts of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium to even heavier elements of nitrogen and even carbon. Every element heavier than hydrogen and helium in the universe forms this way or are created in the ultimate supernova explosion.

The highly complex shape of NGC 2359 is thought to be caused by the intense solar winds of WR7 pushing up against the nearby large molecular cloud of gasses and dust. The nebula of many exquisite filamentary structures contains the mass of hundreds of our Suns and expands at 10 to 30 kilometers per second (20,000-70,000 mph), which when extrapolating backwords yields and age of 100 to 200 thousand years old. Furthermore, part of the nebula is so bright it has its own NGC designation of 2361.

In the image below, the stars have been removed from the image to show even more extensive areas of the emission nebula.

Thor's Helmet with Stars Removed!
Video Thor's Helmet with Stars Removed!