The Rho Ophiuchi Nebula is a large diffuse nebula located in the southwestern corner of the constellation Ophiuchus, surrounding the bright triple star Rho Ophiuchi. Several regions of bright and dark nebulosity surround this area.
At a distance of some 540 light-years, the nebula is one of the nearest star-forming regions to the Sun, and the colorful clouds surrounding Rho Ophiuchi represent the visible counterpart of a much larger but invisible molecular cloud permeating the region. About 1.5 million years ago, a massive star in upper Scorpius exploded as a supernova, sending a powerful shock wave through the Ophiuchus cloud triggering star formation that is still continuing today.
To the right of image is Antares – the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and the sixteenth brightest star in the sky, at magnitude 1.06. It marks the heart of the Scorpion. A fierce stellar wind blowing from the surface of Antares has resulted in a circumstellar gas cloud, and in the sky, Antares lies embedded in a complex region of emission and reflection nebulosity.
The globular cluster M4 also appears nearby to the north of Antares, but is more than ten times further away at 7,200 light years and might well be the nearest globular to Earth.
Imaged from Bathurst, NSW Australia 7 July 2013 at 1900 hrs
Canon 70-200L Lens
Exp. 20 sec x 46 light and dark frames processed in Deep Sky Stacker