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The Heart Nebula, also known as IC 1805, is an emission nebula that is located about 7,500 light years away, in the constellation Cassiopeia. It covers an area of about 60 arc minutes, approximately 200 light years. It receives its name because of its peculiar shape, reminiscent of a human heart.
In the central areas of the Heart nebula, dust clouds take on capricious forms. These formations are due to stellar winds and radiation from a wide variety of hot massive stars. These stars are part of a cluster of young stars called Melotte 15, up to 1.5 million years old.
In the Heart nebula there is another associated open cluster, called Berkeley 65. All these star clusters are part of a large complex of nebulae found in the Perseus Arm, the largest spiral arm of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
The source of the red color that emits the nebula of the Heart is caused by hydrogen, the element that predominates over all those that compose it. Discovered by the WISE space telescope in 2010, the light emitted by the Heart nebula takes about 6,000 light years to reach Earth.
Next to the Nebula of the Heart is the Nebula of the Soul, also called IC 1848 or W5. Both nebulae are authentic massive star factories, in which stellar dust accumulates in the form of new stars.
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