November 2015: Picture of the Month


The Pelican Nebula, also known as IC 5070, is an H II region that is slowly being divided from the larger North America Nebula by a molecular cloud of dark dust. The Pelican is often studied due to its particular mix of active stars formation and evolving gas cloud. This picture was produced in three specific colors – each associated with light emitted by sulfur, hydrogen and oxygen. The bright orange color on the right, known as the ionization front, is due to the fact that the light from young, energetic stars is transforming the cold gas into hot gas. Although this nebula got its name due to its resemblance to a pelican, millions of years of now, it might no longer be known as the Pelican, as the balance and placement of stars and gas will leave something quite different.

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