Astronomy Picture of the Day – The Cave Nebula in Infrared from Spitzer 

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.

2019 June 11

The Cave Nebula in Infrared from Spitzer 
Image Credit: NASAJPL-CaltachSpitzer Space Telescope

 

Explanation: What’s happening in and around the Cave Nebula? To help find out, NASA’s orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope looked into this optically-dark star-forming region in four colors of infrared light. The Cave Nebula, cataloged as Sh2-155, is quite bright in infrared, revealing details not only of internal pillars of gas and dust, but of the illuminating star cluster too – all near the top of the image. The red glow around the Cave’s entrance is created by dust heated by bright young stars. To the right is Cepheus B, a star cluster that formed previously from the same cloud of gas and dust. Other interesting stars of Cepheus come to light in infrared as well, including those illuminating an even younger nebula toward the image bottom, and a runaway star pushing a bow shock, tinged in red near the image center. This region spans about 50 light years and lies about 2,500 light years toward the constellation of the King of Aethiopia (Cepheus).