Astronomy Picture of the Day



Wisps of the Iris Nebula

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#102127 by @ 27.06.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
Wisps of the Iris Nebula


Explanation:
Like delicate cosmic petals, these clouds of interstellar
dust and gas have blossomed 1,300 light-years away in the fertile
star fields of the constellation Cepheus.

Sometimes called the Iris Nebula and dutifully
cataloged as NGC
7023, this is not the only nebula in the
sky to evoke the imagery of flowers.

Still, this beautiful digital image shows off the
Iris Nebula's range of colors and
symmetries in impressive detail.

Within the Iris,
dusty
nebular material surrounds a massive, hot,
young star in its formative years.

Central filaments of cosmic dust glow with a reddish
photoluminescence
as some dust grains
effectively
convert
the star's invisible
ultraviolet
radiation to visible red light.

Yet the dominant color of the central nebula is blue,
characteristic
of dust
grains
reflecting starlight.

Dark, obscuring clouds of dust and
cold molecular gas are present
on the left of the image, and lead the eye to see other
convoluted and
fantastic shapes.

Infrared observations
indicate that this nebula may contain complex carbon molecules known as
PAHs.

As shown here, the bright blue portion of the
Iris
Nebula
is about six
light-years across.




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