ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Emission nebula NGC 281, optical image. NGC 281 is a huge cloud of gas and dust in which stars are forming. Radiation from the hot newborn stars ionises the hydrogen in the nebula, causing it to emit red light. Silhouetted against the bright nebula are several small, dense blobs known as Bok globules. These are compact regions of gas and dust in the latter stages of the process of star formation. Inside them, material is getting hot enough and dense enough to begin the nuclear reactions characteristic of stars. This nebula lies around 10,000 light years from Earth, in the constellation Cassiopeia.
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