The Helix Halo

Located 655 lightyears away in Aquarius is the famous Helix nebula. The Helix nebula is one of the most extensively studied and imaged planetary nebula, and has a number of very interesting structures, including small central cometary knots, large-scale emission arcs, and a bipolar outflow causing bow-shaped filaments and shocks.

When planning this project, I came across a paper by Zhang et al discussing a possible halo around the Helix nebula. On Galex UV images, they detected a very faint possible NE jet, a SW bow shaped filament and a diffuse Southern Halo. I decided to take a deep image of the Helix to see if I could detect these infrequently seen features in Ha emission. I had also noticed on some images, faint OIII emission occurring around the NE and SW arc’s and wanted to see if I could clearly define this OIII emission.

Technical Details

Imaging Telescopes Or Lenses
Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

Imaging Cameras

Chroma Filters

10Micron GM1000 HPS

Adobe Photoshop · Pleiades Astrophoto PixInsight · Starkeeper Voyager

Acquisition details
Dates: July 18, 2023 ·  Aug. 14, 2023 ·  Aug. 22, 2023 ·  Sept. 9, 2023 ·  Sept. 15, 2023


Integration: 84h 30′


Dunedin, NZ

© Zhang et al, The Astrophysical Journal

Data was captured with my Nikon 400mm f/2.8 including all of the nebulosity data seen here, but I did add some of the brighter stars from some data I had from my APM LZOS refractor.  I used drizzle integration, and the outer faint halo was processed using continuum subtraction and carefully masked to not blow out the brighter inner ring. Astrobin link:

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