ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Elephant's trunk nebula (VDB 142), optical image. This nebula lies around 2400 light years from Earth in the constellation Cepheus. It is a site of star formation, with a cluster of young stars condensing in the cavity towards the left. The radiation from these stars ionises the hydrogen gas surrounding the cluster, causing it to glow red. There are also regions of reflection nebulosity, where fine dust particles reflect starlight. These regions appear blue as short- wavelength blue light is scattered more then red. The dark areas are caused by dense dust clouds in the foreground, which obscure the light from behind.
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