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Image of the Day: Dark, Strange Beauty of the Cone Nebula


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The Cone Nebula, part of a much larger star-forming complex, is at bottom with inverted Christmas Tree cluster NGC 2264 above the cone; the bright star just above the cone is the tree topper and the very bright star at the top of the image is the center of the tree trunk. The Fox Fur Nebula is at the top right corner. The Snowflake nebula is in the middle which shows up better on the infrared image. The cone's shape comes from a dark absorption nebula consisting of cold molecular hydrogen and dust in front of a faint emission nebula containing hydrogen ionized by S Monocerotis, the brightest star of NGC 2264. The faint nebula is approximately seven light-years long, and is 2,700 light-years away from Earth.

Credit ESO

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