Distance: 7,500 Light Years
Size: 15 x 8 Arc-minutes
Age: Approx. 3 Million Years
Telescope: Takahashi TOA-130
Camera: QSI 683
Mount: AP 1100
Exposures: L 25×600 Bin 1, RGB 20×300 Bin 2
Melotte 15 is an open cluster at the center of the Heart Nebula and is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. It is very young at 1.5-3 million years and contains several very young and very bright Type O stars. This young cluster is responsible for hollowing out the central area of the Heart Nebula with large amounts of ultraviolet radiation. The cluster is also responsible for shaping the dense dust cloud that forms the branch like formation found in the center of my image.
The Melotte catalog is named after Philibert Jacques Melotte. He cataloged 245 open and globular clusters in 1915. These clusters are less known than the Messier clusters but most of them are visible with amateur equipment.
Narrowband Exposures: SII 21×900, Ha 20×900, OIII 25×900