Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The End Of The Rainbow

When you think the Eta Carina Nebula is a beautiful gem in space then the Wolf Rayet nebula of NGC 3199 plays in the same league. The nebula was once thought to be a ring nebula with a bright 'front' or 'shockwave' of gas, the result of intense stellar winds by a nearby Wolf Rayet star (HD 89358). Don't bother looking there, the star is at a completely different location for reasons unknown. It's not even in the line of sight from Sol. Sometimes I think 21st century astronomers were a drunken lot.

The nebula is not nearly as enormous as Eta Carina but it's still some good 80 light years wide. It also has considerably fewer massive stars around, suggesting that it's somewhat older in cosmic terms than the Carina. What is more interesting perhaps for the intrepid explorer is that when following the Orion Spur here, NGC 3199 seems to be the very last feature 21st century astronomers (yes, the drunken lot) could come up with. 

Beyond, the 'suburbs' begin again with seamingly monotonous space; or you head coreward from here and get the opportunity to see some spectacular star forming regions in the more dense Sagittarius Arm. However, once you fly through brilliantly named sectors like 'Bloo Dryiae' or 'Blia Euq' you get the picture.
The regions beyond NGC 3199 are also those where star density can become a problem at times. My good old Asp flies at 34 Light years and has so far laughed off any 'gaps' between stars but out here I find myself replotting courses or setting them manually more often. This is where I keep reminding me of the Mission Statement: Finding a traverse across the far Orion Spur Shallows and I think I'll get my work cut out for me.

Update: I left NGC 3199 well behind and finally found a system from where I will commence my traverse. I dubbed the system 'Hellsreach' because it boasts no less then nine celestial bodies with volcanic and/or magmatic activity that are nestled between a massive young B type star and its three orbiting protostars. I honestly don't know why I picked this system as my Waypoint Alpha. Maybe it's the desolate feeling of 'Don't go any further!' this system radiates.

Anyway, the primary is a scoopable so now it's time to plot courses for the great Far Orion Shallows Traverse. Time to move on. 

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