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light and dark patches in this image - real or processing artefacts ?

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In the image below of Barnard's galaxy there are very pronounced areas of dark and light across the frame.  Is anyone familiar with this area of the sky and if so, do you know if the effect is a true representation of this part of the sky or is more likely to be due to processing artifacts?

I'm pretty sure that the areas of dark in the extreme corners are partly (mostly ?) due to imperfectly corrected vignetting but I'm less sure about the other dark areas in the image.  




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