Rosette Nebula Caldwell 49
Caldwell 49 (The Rosette Nebula)

This active star forming nebula lies in the Monoceros Constellation (the Unicorn) only 5,200 light-years distant. The dense cloud of hydrogen has been condensing to form new stars and is thought to be very similar to the environment that gave birth to our own Solar System.

As the new stars ignite they blow off their shrouds and irradiate thier surroundings and cause the hydrogen to glow from the ionizing radiation. Like dust being blown by the wind, these newborns push the hydrogen and dust away where it collapses under gravity to accelerate the formation of yet more stars, excavating the inner region of the nebula over time.

The dark tendrils seen in the image are hiding the birthing cocoons of new stars which will eventually shed their egg-like shells, called globules, once they begin to fuse hydrogen into helium. As the brthing continues, the pressure from stellar winds will continue to increase until the available hydrogen has been collapsed into stars (where it has become dense enough) or simply blown away into the intersellar medium.

These structures are very short lived, cosmologically speaking, lasting as little as a few million years.
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