Dance of fireflies in the core of the Milky Way

While visiting a dark sky park during mid June of 2023 to see the Milky Way core rise in the summer night sky, photographer and CIERA graduate student Imran Sultan got a rare treat: an incalculable number of fireflies had recently emerged in the central Illinois forest preserve. The dance of the terrestrial and celestial bodies, captured by the light they emit, made for a remarkable photo. To create this composite picture, Imran combined the blinking of fireflies as they danced over 30 minutes, and the Milky Way core as it rose over one hour. Sultan, who practices astrophotography in his free time, is a graduate student in CIERA Professor Claude-Andre Faucher-Giguere’s group. In 2023, Sultan’s photo of the Western Veil Nebula and the Flower Moon won first place and runner-up respectively in the astronomy category of the Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition.

Credit: Imran Sultan/Northwestern/CIERA

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