The Cave Nebula


This colorful skyscape features the dusty Sharpless catalog emission region Sh2-155, the Cave Nebula. In the composite image, data taken through narrowband filters tracks the glow of ionized sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms in red, green, and blue hues. About 2,400 light-years away, the scene lies along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the royal northern constellation of Cepheus. Astronomical explorations of the region reveal that it has formed at the boundary of the massive Cepheus B molecular cloud and the hot, young stars of the Cepheus OB 3association. The bright rim of ionized interstellar gas is energized by radiation from the hot stars, dominated by the bright star just above picture center. Radiation driven ionization fronts are likely triggering collapsing cores and new star formation within. Appropriately sized for a stellar nursery, the cosmic cave is over 10 light-years across.
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