The Ghost of Cassiopeia

Object Type: Emission & Reflection Nebula
Scope: AP 5" Refractor
Exposure 210 minutes

The Ghost of Cassiopeia
IC 63, IC 59 and Gamma Cassiopeia
The constellation of Cassiopeia, named after a vain queen in Greek mythology, forms the easily recognizable "W" shape in the night sky. The central point of the W is marked by a bight star named Gamma Cassiopeia, who despite its brightness never received a formal Arabic or Latin name. That is the very bright overexposed star in the lower right field of the image.
Located about 550 light years from the sun, Gamma Cassiopeia is a blue-white subgiant variable star that is surrounded by a gaseous disc. Its unpredictable envelope outbursts combined with its high speed of rotation, about 200 times faster than the sun’s rotation, eject matter from the star creating a gaseous disc around it. This star is 19 times more massive and 65 000 times brighter than our Sun. This frenzied rotation gives it a squashed appearance. These outbursts cause significant changes in the star’s brightness which is why it is called a variable star.
IC 63 aka the Ghost Nebula (center image, to the left of Gamma Cassiopeia) and IC 59 (above IC63) are a combination of faint, emission and reflection nebulae, located about 4 light-years from Gamma Cassiopeia. Together they are approximately 10 light-years across.