Thursday, March 23, 2017
SH2-155: THE CAVE NEBULA Image Credit & Copyright: Eric Coles and Mel Helm
This skyscape features dusty Sharpless catalog emission region Sh2-155, the Cave Nebula. In the telescopic image, data taken through a narrowband filter tracks the reddish glow of ionized hydrogen atoms. About 2,400 light-years away, the scene lies along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the royal northern constellation of Cepheus. Astronomical explorations of the region reveal that it has formed at the boundary of the massive Cepheus B molecular cloud and the hot, young stars of the Cepheus OB 3 association. The bright rim of ionized hydrogen gas is energized by radiation from the hot stars, dominated by the brightest star above and left of picture center. Radiation driven ionization fronts are likely triggering collapsing cores and new star formation within. Appropriately sized for a stellar nursery, the cosmic cave is over 10 light-years across.