Cosmic Tour: The Monkey Head Nebula

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The Monkey Head nebula is made of glowing gas, cold dust, and bright young stars.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University.

  • Ground-based view: Palomar Observatory, STScI, Digitized Sky Survey
  • WISE Mission image: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA
  • Chandra X-ray Observatory image: NASA, CXC, SAO
  • Spitzer Space Telescope image: NASA, JPL-Caltech
  • Hubble Space Telescope image: NASA, ESA, and STScI
  • Multi-wavelength image(Spitzer/Hubble/Chandra): NASA, ESA, JPL-Caltech, STScI, CXC/SAO
  • Written by Dr. Frank Summers
  • Designed by Dani Player
  • Science review lead: Dr. Brandon Lawton
  • Education lead: Timothy Rhue II
  • Music courtesy of Associated Production Music

Text, Cosmic Tour. The Monkey Head Nebula.
Photo, a blue and brown nebula punctuated by bright pink and white stars. A legend demonstrates size. Text, two light years equals 0.61 parsecs.
Within our Milky Way Galaxy, nearly 6,500 light years from Earth, lies a star-forming region known as the Monkey Head Nebula. The nebula is made of glowing gas - shown in blue - cold dust - in brown - and bright, young stars - in pink and white. Ultraviolet light from the hot, young stars is eroding the gas and dust into shadowy pillars.
Labels appear on the image. Bright young stars off screen. Glowing gas. Eroding pillars. Cold dust.
The nebula photo fades, overlaid by a ground based star field. Lines and images appear that detail the constellations Gemini and Orion
Zooming into the space between Gemini's feet and Orion's club, we find the Monkey Head Nebula. Text, Ground-based image A Fujii. Digitized Sky Survey 2.
We fly into the center of the nebula.
Text, Hubble Space Telescope, infrared light. Hubble Space Telescope, infrared 3D model. Gaseous formations tower above.
Towers of interstellar dust thrust upwards amidst the distant stars behind.
The nebula twists like a glowing and imposing mountain as we zoom out.