The Monkey Head Nebula Is a Glittering Stellar Nursery

Peer closely at this photo and in the background, you’ll see galaxies the size of stars, and stars the size of galaxies [huge version here]. But in the foreground is the Monkey Head Nebula (NGC 2174), captured in the infrared by the Hubble space telescope. It’s a region of wispy, turbulent gas and dust clouds — chaos enveloping a twinkling stellar nursery. This beautiful patch of starry sky is in the constellation Orion, about 6,500 light-years away. The nebula gets its name from the shape it takes when viewed in wide-field. This image doesn’t really give you the full primate-in-the-sky experience, so I’ve used that as an excuse to paste in a set of photos below. Sit back and stare, click to enlarge.

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