Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2018 January 16
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An Elephant's Trunk in Cepheus
Image Credit & Copyright: Processing - Robert Gendler, Roberto Colombari
Data - Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Robert Gendler, Adam Block

Explanation: With image data from telescopes large and small, this close-up features the dusty Elephant's Trunk Nebula. It winds through the emission nebula and young star cluster complex IC 1396, in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus. Also known as vdB 142, the cosmic elephant's trunk is over 20 light-years long. The colorful view highlights bright, swept-back ridges that outline the region's pockets of cool interstellar dust and gas. Such embedded, dark, tendril-shaped clouds contain the raw material for star formation and hide protostars within. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively faint IC 1396 complex covers a large region on the sky, spanning over 5 degrees. This dramatic scene spans a 1 degree wide field, about the size of 2 Full Moons.

Tomorrow's picture: orion away

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