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.

2022 October 11

Stars, Dust, Pillars, and Jets in the Pelican Nebula

Image Credit & Copyright: Adriano Almeida

Explanation: What dark structures arise within the Pelican Nebula? On the whole, the nebula appears like a bird (a pelican) and is seen toward the constellation of a different bird: Cygnus, a Swan. But inside, the Pelican Nebula is a place lit up by new stars and befouled by dark dust. Smoke-sized dust grains start as simple carbon compounds formed in the cool atmospheres of young stars but are dispersed by stellar winds and explosions. Two impressive Herbig-Haro jets are seen emitted by the star HH 555 on the right, and these jets are helping to destroy the light year-long dust pillar that contains it. Other pillars and jets are also visible. The featured image was scientifically-colored to emphasize light emitted by small amounts of heavy elements in a nebula made predominantly of the light elements hydrogen and helium. The Pelican Nebula (IC 5067 and IC 5070) is about 2,000 light-years away and can be found with a small telescope to the northeast of the bright star Deneb.


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