Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Cocoon Nebula from CFHT

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The Cocoon Nebula from CFHT

What creates the colors of the Cocoon Nebula?

The Cocoon Nebula, cataloged as
IC 5146, is a
strikingly beautiful nebula located about 4,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Swan

Inside the
Cocoon Nebula is a newly developing
open cluster
of stars.

Like other
stellar nurseries,
the Cocoon Nebula holds, at the same time, a bright red
emission nebula, blue
reflection nebulas, and dark
absorption nebulas.

Given different mixtures, these three processes create a host of colors in
this image taken recently by the
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in
Hawaii, USA.

Speculation based on
recent measurements
that the massive star towards the left of
the picture opened a hole in an existing
molecular cloud
through which much of the glowing material flows.

The same star, which formed about 100,000 years ago,
now provides the energy source for much of the emitted and
reflected light from this nebula.

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