sponsored by psychohistorian.org


Deep Sky Observer's Companion – the online database


Welcome, guest!

If you've already registered, please log in,

or register an observer profile for added functionality.


log in to manage your observing lists























Full database:

Entire DOCdb database of 18,816 objects.



Seven Sisters of the Pole (1 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost

show browsing

CitationStruve, O. & Straka, W.C. (1962) Notes on diffuse galactic nebulae. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac., 74, 474-487.


Notes on diffuse galactic nebulae

Otto Struve and W.C. Straka

Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories
Carnegie Institution of Washington
California Institute of Technology

[page 474]

This article represent a resumption of the work on diffuse galactic nebulosities (mainly of the reflection type) that was conducted by members of the Yerkes and McDonald Observatories about a quarter of a century ago. Since that time important advances have been made by a number of other astronomers (see, for example, Bok1). The magnificent Palomar photographs of the sky obtained with the 48-inch Schmidt telescope now make it possible to extend the earlier investigations. Since each field has been photographed separately on blue- and red-sensitive emulsions, it is possible to distinguish between blue and red nebulae. But the red photographs do not, per se, allow the viewer to distinguish between reddish reflection nebulae and Hα-emitting gaseous nebulae.

Of special interest are the nebulosities in and near Taurus and those forming the great complex in Scorpius-Ophiuchus. Both regions are rich in dark, obscuring clouds, and both are relatively close to the sun. Both are associated with Gould's belt, rather than with the average galactic equator. The Scorpius-Ophiuchus complex is located approximately in the direction of the galactic center and at an average distance of about 200 parsecs. The Taurus group of nebulae lies in the opposite part of the sky, at an average distance of 100 to 140 parsecs. However, A. Adolfson (quoted by Bok) "suspects on the basis of spectral types and color for the brighter stars, that there is considerable range in distance for these same dark nebulae, with the nearest dense dark nebulae no further than 50 parsecs away."

Similar distance estimates by W. Gotz and W. Wenzel, at Sonneberg, seem to indicate that the nearest boundaries of the Taurus dark nebulae may, in fact, be near the sun.

There is no such indication with regard to the Scorpius-Ophiuchus complex. These very prominent dark clouds are apparently bounded, at a minimum distance of perhaps 100 parsecs.

[page 475]

Nevertheless, the suspicion exists that these two great complexes are parts of the same spiral arm of the Milky Way, with the one in Scorpius and Ophiuchus forming the inner part of it. If so, the great density of the obscuring clouds in that region may represent a tendency of the diffuse material in the Milky Way to be more prominent in the inner parts of the arms than in their outer regions.

1. Red Nebula near Antares (α Scorpii). This nebula was recorded in blue light, by E. E. Barnard, as a fairly large but faint objects located mostly north of Antares. The strong red glow of the same nebulosity was found by Struve, Elvey, and Roach on a red-sensitive emulsion.2 Its spectrum was obtained by Struve, Van Biesbroeck, and Elvey with the nebulae spectrograph of the McDonald Observatory.3 The great intensity of the visual continuous spectrum is well shown on Plate XI facing p. 562 of volume 87 of the Astrophysical Journal, and the authors tentatively concluded "that the nebula is essentially of the reflection type." This large nebula is not to be identified with the small emission nebula that surrounds the B-type companion of Antares. As far as we know, there have been no new spectrographic observations of the large nebula, and there is still the possibility that Hα may be found to be in emission; the McDonald spectrogram does not eliminate this possibility.

The 48-inch Schmidt Palomar Sky Survey plates show the large nebula as a spectacular red object. Since Antares lies near the southern boundary of the dense obscuring clouds in Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the most intense red glow is observed north of the star. But a fainter red glow extends towards the southeast, over a distance of several degrees, into a relatively less obscured field of stars.

The reddish glow also appears to extend into the opaque lane that runs from the star 22 Scorpii toward the east. In fact, the southern edge of the lane is distinctly luminous on the red Palomar photograph, up to a distance of approximately four degrees from Antares. That this not unreasonable may be shown by the method of Hertzsprung,4 as applied by him to the reflection nebulae in the Pleiades, or by the method of Struve and Story,5 which led, for the Scorpius-Ophiuchus group of nebulae, to a Hubble relation of the form m* + 5 log a = 12.0, where m* is the

[page 476]

apparent magnitude of the star, and a is the maximum distance of the nebular glow from the star, expressed in minutes of arc. For the Pleiades the same authors found m* + 5 log a = 8.5. This would imply that the Scorpius-Ophiuchus cloud is effectively opaque, that the albedo of the particles is fairly large, and that the light of Antares is not greatly absorbed by the intervening clouds before it reaches the dark lane. Under these conditions, the red glow could extend to distances of four, or even more, degrees from Antares.

2. Reflection Nebulae in Scorpius and Ophiuchus. The Palomar photographs confirm and extend the conclusions of Henyey6 and Struve.7 The reflection nebula surrounding the star CD -24° 12684 is distinctly redder than the nebula that surrounds ρ Ophiuchi, despite the face that the spectral type of the former star, B3, is earlier than that of the latter, B5. The star CD -24° 12684, apparent magnitude 8.3, is deeply immersed in the obscuring cloud. It experiences a total absorption in the cloud of about 3 magnitudes; the nebula surrounding it is also produced deep in the cloud: both the star and the nebula appear reddened by selective scattering within the cloud. Rho Ophiuchi is located near the surface of the cloud; its nebula is intensely blue.

An interesting blue nebulous filament may be seen northwest of the star CD -24° 12698 (object 58 in Table I, apparent magnitude 9.3). Plate 13 of the Barnard Atlas shows it faintly. The nebulosity is also faintly shown on the red Palomar photograph. Dr. George Herbig has informed us that he has one low-dispersion slit spectrogram of CD -24° 12698 taken in 1949: "The spectral type is A0 or A1, and there is no sign of emission or any obvious peculiarities in the photographic region" of the star's spectrum. The type agrees well with the blue color of the nebulous filament.

A re-examination of the Mount Wilson Observatory spectrogram confirms the spectral types assigned to ρ Ophiuchi, 22 Scorpii, and HD 147889 = CD -24° 12684. The first has very broad absorption lines and the usual very sharp interstellar lines discovered by W.S. Adams. The star 22 Scorpii also has broad lines, but CD -24° 12684 has fairly narrow lines on a background of greatly reddened continuous spectrum.

[page 477]

A small reddish nebulosity appears east of CD -24° 12684 and may be associated with one or more faint red stars in its immediate vicinity, rather than with the brighter B-type star. Still another, bluish, nebulosity of very low surface brightness surrounds the A0 star HD 147702 (object 56 in Table I, apparent magnitude 9.3). Since ρ Ophiuchi has an apparent magnitude of 5.2, the difference between it and HD 147702 is 4 magnitudes. IF both are main sequence stars - as is probable - we should expect, from the H-R diagram, a difference of only 1.5 magnitudes. Apparently HD 147702 is immersed in the cloud to a much greater extent than ρ Ophiuchi. In this respect HD 147702 resembles CD -24° 12684.

The structural details of these nebulae appear to be the same on the red and blue photographs, which supports the view that they are produced by reflection only.

The foregoing results show that the Scorpius-Ophiuchus complex of dark clouds contains not only the previously known B-type stars but also several A-type stars. No illuminating star has yet been found whose brightness is reduced by more than 3 magnitudes. This result is compatible with Bok's determination of total photographic absorptions in the Scorpius-Ophiuchus region.1 In the vicinity of CD -24° 12684 he found Δmag. = 6.3. Thus this star, and also HD 147702, are probably located deep inside the cloud.

3. σ Scorpii. The foregoing statement does not apply to the nebula that surrounds σ Scorpii: its blue and red photographs differ in a most spectacular manner (Plate I). The presence within this nebula of reflected starlight and Hα emission was first demonstrated in 1937,8 and was confirmed a year later with the McDonald Observatory nebular spectrograph by Struve, Van Biesbroeck, and Elvey.3 The Palomar photographs confirm this and show that Hα in emission is especially strong northwest of the star, where there is an almost straight, snake-like filament resembling a shock front. However, the red Hα glow is not limited to that filament: it overlaps in many regions with the reflection nebulosity seen on the blue photograph.

This filamentary emission nebula was photographed by Hase and Shajn,9,10 who designated it as Simeiz No. 176-177. The

[page 478]

structure shown in Figure 1 of their paper10 is similar to that shown on the Palomar photographs.

Sigma Scorpii, of spectral class B1, is the hottest star immersed in the Scorpius-Ophiuchus cloud. It is a well-known member of the β CMa variables, and its two interfering periods of about 5h56m and either 6h7m or 5h44m place it, together with β Canis Majoris, near the top of the sequence in the H-R diagram. It has had time to evolve away from the main sequence, which should make it possible to date the entire group. Sigma Scorpii has an additional period of more than one month (this is not the beat period), and its corresponding velocity curve suggests that it is a single-lined spectroscopic binary. Nothing, however, is known about the companion.

Radial velocities of σ Scorpii obtained in 1954 indicated differential motions: the mean departures H–O II = +9.3 km/sec imply an inflow of H relative to O II (or an outflow of O II relative to H). In 1960, no such differential motions were present.11 Beta Canis Majoris itself has never shown differential motions,12 nor has this phenomenon been found in any other member of the sequence. The occurrence of Hα emission in the nebulosity need not be regarded as contradicting the sharp transition at B0 from emission to reflection. One may infer from the work of Stableford and Abhyankar13 that σ Scorpii is probably as luminous and as hot at β Canis Majoris. The only remarkable feature of this nebula is the fact that the emission and reflection come from different regions in the cloud.

4. Listing of Interesting Nebulae. Initially, forty-four selected red and blue pairs of prints (see Fig. 1) from the Palomar Sky Survey were examined by twelve members of an astronomy class at the California Institute of Technology, who volunteered their time for the project. The basis for selection of objects was the nebulous appearance of a star or small number of stars, with a somewhat arbitrary upper limit on brightness. Several of the prints were examined by two or three persons as a cross-check. This preliminary list contained some 250 objects.

The next stage was the re-examination of the objects by the writers, during which many objects were eliminated for various

[page 479]

reasons and some were added. However, not all objects retained fall into the original classification, in particular, object 13. Also, in some cases two or three objects were listed as one, e.g., 19, 41, and 51.

The amount of dark nebulosity on the prints was determined by laying a glass plate with a 10′ grid over the red print and counting squares. The total area for a print was 1521 squares, of about 1.5 x 105 square minutes of arc. (Whether the obscuration was predominantly light (l), moderate (m), or heavy (h) was also noted.) From these measures and the number of objects in dark regions, the density of objects per square degree of dark matter was computed. The average density, determined by the total number of objects in dark regions divided by the number of square degrees of dark matter, is 0.22 objects per square degree of dark area.

Table I (below): columns 4–6 are not reproduced here.

The objects are listed in Table I in order of right ascension. The fourth column is the plate designation of the Palomar Sky Survey print. Sometimes the object appears on two prints. In such cases the one from which the position was first determined is listed. Columns 5 and 6 give the position in centimeters from the right (R) or left (L), and from the top (T) or bottom (B) of the print. Column 7 gives the color of the print on which the

[page 480]

measurements were made – red (R) for E-plate prints and blue (B) for O-plate prints. This is usually the print on which the object is more prominent. If it is about equal on both, the red print was used. Column 8 gives the object's name, if known. Comments are in the last column. D means that the object is in a dark lane or a cloud. A question mark means that the region is only slightly darkened. The magnitudes are those in the Durchmusterung, with ranges of variables from the Kukarkin catalog. The spectral types are from the Henry Draper catalog, the Herbig article, and the Kukarkin catalog. T indicates that the star is of T Tauri type. The dark objects named have the Barnard designations. If more than one object is included, the positions of the secondary objects are noted.

Plates II through V contain several enlargements of small portions of the prints used for the construction of Table I. Most of the nebulae in the table have not been investigated spectroscopically; only a few (like T Tauri and its associated nebulosities) are already well known.

Table II (Distribution of nebulae marked D in Table I) and Table III (Summary of nebulae per square degree of dark cloud) are not reproduced here.

Table I suggests that there is a tendency for the nebulae associated with obscuring clouds to be more frequent in certain regions of the sky than in others. Table II gives a summary of the results. Successive columns list: (1) the survey plate center, (2) the number of nebulae associated with dark clouds on each plate, (3) the percentages of the area of each plate occupied by dark clouds, and (4) the number of nebulae per square degree of dark cloud. The mean value is, as already mentioned, 0.22 nebulae per square degree of dark cloud. But the range in the separate plate values is large: from zero to 1.44. In two diametrically opposite regions (see Table III), one in Taurus, other in Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the values in the last column in Table II differ systematically.

The difference is probably real. It may be the result of a smaller average absorption in the Taurus region as compared to that of Scorpius-Ophiuchus (see Bok1) and the more ragged appearance of the dark clouds in Taurus than in the region of ρ Ophiuchi.

Table 1 (edited)

NoRADecColorStarCommentsRA, Dec
10 01.6+65 04B––D00 06.8, +65 37
20 08.9+65 09BBD +64, 16D, 9.5m00 14.3, +65 42
30 21.2+64 08R––D(?)00 26.8, +64 41
40 28.6+68 53RHD 3037K0, 8.5m00 34.5, +69 26
52 32.4+59 10RGP CasM3, slow irr var. (11.9-12.5)02 39.9, +59 36
62 34.2+59 11R––02 41.7, +59 37
72 44.2+61 47R––2 stars involved02 52.1, +62 12
82 53.7+24 49B––D02 59.6, +25 13
93 16.0+61 11BHD 20798B5, 8.4m, double (ADS 2501)03 24.3, +61 32
103 36.8+31 39RBD +31, 640D, 9.5m, 3 stars03 43.1, +31 58
113 42.9+38 39BLkHa 272, 273D, 8.8m, T (272 is K0e +/- 1/2 class)03 49.5, +38 57
123 45.6+32 50R––D03 51.9, +33 08
133 58.1+26 04R?Large figure-8 shape04 04.2, +26 21
144 06.5+23 20BHD 26514G5, 7.5m04 12.5, +23 35
154 13.7+28 05R––D (object B7), see note04 19.9, +28 20
164 16.1+19 17RT TauD, dG5e, (9.6-13.5), T04 21.9, +19 31
174 17.0+28 15RBarnard 96D (object B214), 9.1m04 23.2, +28 29
184 21.1+25 57RDG TauD, dGe, (11.8-14.9), T04 27.2, +26 11
194 23.4+35 06RNGC 1579D, 2 other stars assoc. (south of nebula)04 30.0, +35 19
204 24.2+35 12B––D04 30.8, +35 25
214 25.1+23 11B––D, near HD 2858104 31.1, +23 24
224 25.4+16 57R––D04 31.2, +17 10
234 25.6+17 00R––D, 2 stars04 31.4, +17 13
244 26.5+24 12R––D (object B18), 2 stars04 32.6, +24 25
254 26.7+24 09RHaro 6-17, 18D (object B18), 2 stars04 32.8, +24 22
264 27.4+24 11RHaro 6-21, 22D (object B18), 2 stars04 33.5, +24 24
274 28.8+50 36RSharpless 211D04 36.5, +50 48
284 29.6+24 11R––D, near DN Tau04 35.7, +24 23
294 29.7+22 41RHaro 6-28D04 35.7, +22 53
304 31.9+26 04RDO TauD, dGe, (13.7-15.5), T04 38.1, +26 16
314 33.9+25 35RBarnard 109D (object B14)04 40.0, +25 47
324 34.0+22 49BHD 29538A0, 8.7m04 40.0, +23 01
334 35.6+24 58RBD +24 677D, 9.5m, 3 stars04 41.7, +25 10
344 41.1+48 21BHD 30280B9, 8.4m04 48.6, +48 32
354 42.0+29 37BHD 30378B9, 6.5m, D(?)04 48.3, +29 48
364 45.8+23 47R––04 51.9, +23 57
374 49.4+30 24BAB AurD, A0ep, (7.2-8.4), see note04 55.8, +30 34
385 00.8+30 41R––Poss. 2 or 3 stars05 07.2, +30 49
395 06.6+37 25RSharpless 22805 13.4, +37 32
405 23.1+23 36BBD +23 921D, 9.3m05 29.2, +23 41
415 24.8+34 11RBD +34 10749.5m, also blue object 0.3 south05 31.4, +34 16
425 31.4+31 57RBD +31 10299.5m05 37.9, +32 01
435 31.8+35 47R––D05 38.5, +35 51
445 32.2+30 37B––05 38.6, +30 41
455 33.1+23 16RHD 37387D(?), K5, 7.8m05 39.2, +23 19
465 34.6+35 03RBD +35 1202D, 9.5m, also obj. S(0.3)E(0.5) near large planetary05 41.3, +35 06
475 45.7+27 00RSharpless 242D, 9.5m, also blue obj. S(0.8)E(0.5)05 52.0, +27 02
485 53.8+31 57RHD 40459D, K0, 7.2m06 00.3, +31 57
495 57.4+30 19RSharpless 241D06 03.8, +30 19
505 58.1+30 34B––D06 04.5, +30 34
516 26.2+10 31BVY MonD, also obj. S(0.4)E(0.2), see note06 31.7, +10 27
526 26.2+10 24BBD +10 1163D, 9.4m06 31.7, +10 20
536 27.3+10 14RHD 46265D, K0, 8.2m, see note06 32.8, +10 10
546 27.6+10 24BBD +10 11D, 8.7m06 33.1, +10 20
556 34.4+11 47BHD 47608B9, 8.1m06 40.0, +11 42
5616 18.3-25 28BHD 147702A0, 9.3m, D, see note16 24.4, -25 42
5716 20.6-24 10RS-R 4D, see note16 26.6, -24 24
5816 25.6-24 12BBarnard 275D, 9.3m, see note16 31.7, -24 25
5916 29.3-15 43R––D16 35.0, -15 55
6016 29.6-15 39RBD -15 4345D, 9.3m16 35.3, -15 51
6120 53.4+52 10B––D20 56.4, +52 33
6221 00.3+59 09R––D, near extensive red filaments21 02.8, +59 33
6321 09.0+51 23BBD +51 3013D, 9.5m21 12.2, +51 48
6422 12.2+60 56B––D, 2 stars22 15.5, +61 26
6522 13.0+60 20B––D(?)22 16.4, +60 50
6622 13.5+60 21BHD 211658D(?), A2, 8.7m22 16.9, +60 51
6722 19.7+62 13BBD +61 22929.4m22 23.1, +62 43
6822 20.9+60 46R––D22 24.4, +61 16
6922 25.3+62 31B––D22 28.7, +63 02
7022 49.6+61 36BHD 216658D, sp. B, 8.5m, ADS 1634822 53.5, +62 08
7122 59.5+59 50R––23 03.7, +60 22
7223 21.6+62 24R––D23 26.1, +62 57
7323 33.5+59 25R––D(?)23 38.2, +59 58
7423 53.7+65 52R––D (dark lane of NGC 7748)23 58.7, +66 25

Column [2] NGC or IC number; [3] Cederblad (1946); [4] Struve & Straka (1962) [7,8] apparent dimensions, in arcminutes, on the blue and red plates; [9.10] coordinates precessed to 2000.0

Notes to Table I

15. Northeast of Barnard 92 (=B10). See also H.M. Johnson, Pub. A.S.P., 72, 10, 1960

37. Variable of RW Aur type, as is T Tau, but not T Tau sub-class.

51. VY Mon is either objects 392 or 393 in the Gonzalez and Gonzalez list. See Plate III, top. VY Mon is (13.7-15.9), RW Aur type, with emission in Hα

53. Object 397 in the Gonzalez and Gonzalez list.

56. In dark area of IC 4604. See also the text of the present article.

57. In dark area of IC 4604.

58 = CD -24° 12698. In dark area of IC 4604. See also the text of the present article.

References and lists used for the preparation of Table I:

Aitken, Double Star Catalogue.

Barnard, Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way.

Boss, General Catalogue.

Dreyer, New General Catalogue

T. E. Espin, M.N.R.A.S., 63, 172, 1903; ibid, 82, 188, 1922

G. Gonzalez and G. Gonzalez, Bol. Tonantzintla y Tacubaya Obs., 14, 19, 1956.

G. Haro, B. Iriarte, and E. Chavira, ibid, 8, 3, 1953.

G. H. Herbig, in Advances in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 1, Z. Kopal, ed., (New York: Academic Press, 1962), p. 47.

P. N. Kholopov, The Variable Stars, 8, No. 2, 83, 1951.

B. V. Kukarkin, P. P. Parenago, Yu. I. Efremov, and P. N. Kholopov, General Catalog of Variable Stars (Moscow: Academy of Sciences, 1958).

S. Sharpless, Ap. J. Supplements, 4, 257, 1959 (No. 41).

O. Struve and M. Rudkjobing, Ap. J., 109, 92, 1949.

The authors are grateful to the many persons who helped with this investigation, and especially to Mr. N. Divine, who chose the regions to be searched and coordinated the work that led to the construction of Table I; to Mr. Ben L. Thompson, who made the diagram and the charts accompanying the figures; and to the director and staff of the Observatories, who made their facilities available. All the photographs are copyrighted by the National Geographic Society-Palomar Observatory Sky Suvery.

1 B.J. Bok, A.J., 61, 309, 1956.
2 O. Struve, C.T. Elvey and F.E. Roach, Ap.J., 84, 219, 1936.
3 O. Struve, G. Van Biesbroeck, and C.T. Elvey, Ap.J., 87, 559, 1938.
4 E. Hertzsprung, A.N., 195, 449, 1913.

5 O. Struve and H. Story, Ap.J., 84, 203, 1936.
6 L. G. Henyey, Ap.J., 85, 85, 107, 1937.
7 O. Struve, Ann.d'Ap., 1, 11, 1938.
8 O. Struve, Ap.J., 86, 94, 1937.
9 V.F. Hase and G.A. Shajn, Izvestia Crimean Astrophysical Obs., 9, 60, 1952.
10 ibid. 10, 208, 1953.
11 Ol Struve, J. Sahade, and V. Zebergs, Ap.J., 133, 509, 1961.
12 O. Struve and V. Zebergs, Ap.J., 135, 652, 1962.
13 C. Stableford and K.D. Abhyankar, Ap.J., 130. 811, 1959.



Document type: Journal article.

Document source: SAAO

Scope: Partial. (Table 1 only)

Keyed in: AS

Online version: 2010 July 16

The Bug Report

DOCdb is still in beta-release.

Known issues, feature requests, and updates on bug fixes, are here:

> Bug Report


Found a bug? Have a comment or suggestion to improve DOCdb? Please let us know!

> Contact us


DOCdb is a free online resource that exists to promote deep sky observing.

You could help by sharing your observations, writing an article, digitizing and proof-reading historical material, and more.

> Find out more

Free downloads



Star charts

Star charts


Everything on DOCdb.net is © 2004-2010 by Auke Slotegraaf, unless stated otherwise or if you can prove you have divine permission to use it. Before using material published here, please consult the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 License. Some material on DOCdb is copyright the individual authors. If in doubt, don't reproduce. And that goes for having children, too. Please note that the recommended browser for DOCdb is Firefox 3.x. You may also get good results with K-Meleon. Good luck if you're using IE. A successful experience with other browsers, including Opera and Safari, may vary.