Elephant's Trunk Nebula IC1396
A concentration of interstellar gas and dust in the star cluster IC 1396 – an ionized gas region located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant's Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths like these, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star that is just to the west (above) IC 1396A. The entire region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star's harsh ultraviolet rays.
The Elephant's Trunk nebula is now thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of million years, by the standards of stars, which live for billions of years) stars are present in the small, circular cavity you can see in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity.
Orion Optics UK AG16 Astrograph: SBIG 11000 CM: Titan Mount: Pixinsight: Photoshop
26 x 3 minutes (1 hr 18 minutes total)
Data capture: 30th September 2011