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.
2016 May 6
Explanation: These cosmic clouds have blossomed 1,300 light-years away, in the fertile starfields of the constellation Cepheus. Called the Iris Nebula, NGC 7023 is not the only nebula to evoke the imagery of flowers, though. Still, this deep telescopic image shows off the Iris Nebula's range of colours and symmetries, embedded in surrounding fields of interstellar dust. Within the Iris itself, dusty nebular material surrounds a hot, young star. The dominant colour of the brighter reflection nebula is blue, characteristic of dust grains reflecting starlight. Central filaments of the reflection nebula glow with a faint reddish photoluminesence as some dust grains effectively convert the star's invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Infrared observations indicate that this nebula contains complex carbon molecules known as PAHs. The pretty blue petals of the Iris Nebula span about six light-years. The colourful field-of-view stretches almost five Full Moons across the sky.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.