Valentine’s heart of the galaxy
IC 1805 – The Heart & Soul nebula – photographic proof that space loves stargazers back
This is the giant star-forming region designated IC 1805, W5 or The Heart and Soul Nebula: it’s over 200 light years in diameter and is 6,500 light years away from us in the Milky Way. Older stars congregate in the centre of the nebula’s cavity, blasting radiation and stellar winds out to the fringes where interstellar dust and material has been cleared and compressed, forming the heart shape we can see in this image.
Apologies if we’re disappointing the romantics here, but the heart-shape of IC 1805 is entirely coincidental and won’t look the same if seen from a different part of the Milky Way. However, the Heart & Soul Nebula is found in the the constellation Casseopeia, named after the beautiful (and vain) queen of Aethiopa, according to Greek myth.