IC 1396 (North Up, East Left)
The Elephant's Trunk nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus. It lies at a distance of ~2,400 light-years. The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant's Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star (HD 206267) that is just to the east of IC 1396A. The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star's harsh ultraviolet rays. The Elephant's Trunk nebula is thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young stars (less than 100,000 years old) that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older stars (a couple of million years old) are present in a small, circular cavity in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity. The combined action of the light from the massive star ionizing and compressing the rim of the cloud, and the wind from the young stars shifting gas from the center outward lead to very high compression in the Elephant's Trunk nebula, which has triggered the current generation of protostars. The images comprises 5 x each of Ha, OIII and SII (all 300 seconds each), 0.5m f/2.9 ASA Astrograph with FLI ML3200 camera at an altitude of 60 degrees on 4 July 2017. In the first image, the Hubble Space Telescope colour scheme is adopted, SII mapped to R, Ha mapped to G and OIII to B. In the second image, the Canada France Hawaii Telescope colour scheme is adopted, Ha mapped to R, OIII mapped to G and SII to B. The field of view is 34’ x 23’.
Hills Observatory: 1 January 2013 to 26 May 2020