Gain was too high for this project. The over-saturated areas caused column/row artifacts which created dark horizontal bands on either side of the brightest part of the core. It was difficult to deal with in post-processing. Next time, I want to try some low-gain, longer exposures instead to see if the banding problem goes away.
For fun, I combined this image with my M42 project image that included all my best data to date. Here is the results of that mix: