Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Star Pillars of Sharpless 171

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The Star Pillars of Sharpless 171

Towering pillars of cold gas and dark dust adorn the
center star forming region of Sharpless 171.

An open cluster
of stars is forming there from the gas in cold
molecular clouds.

As energetic light emitted by young massive stars boils away the opaque
dust, the region fragments and
picturesque pillars
of the remnant gas and dust form and slowly evaporate.

The energetic light also illuminates the surrounding
hydrogen gas,
energize it to glow as a red
emission nebula.

Pictured above is the active central region of the
Sharpless 171 greater emission nebula.

Sharpless 171 incorporates
NGC 7822 and the active region Cederblad 214, much of which is
imaged above.

The area above spans about 20
light years, lies about 3,000 light years away,
and can be seen with a telescope toward the northern
constellation of the King of Ethiopia

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