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Rho Ophiuchus Nebula Complex This amazing complex of nebulosity revealed on long exposure color photographs is one of the most beautiful areas of the entire night sky. It contains dark nebulae where lanes of obscuring dust hide background stars, blue reflection nebulae where the dust is illuminated by nearby stars and red emission nebulae where the hot hydrogen gas itself is glowing.
This image of the region surrounding the reflection nebula Messier 78, just to the north of Orion’s belt, shows clouds of cosmic dust threaded through the nebula like a string of pearls. The submillimetre-wavelength observations, made with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope and shown here in orange, use the heat glow of interstellar dust grains to show astronomers where new stars are being formed. They are overlaid on a view of the region in visible light.
This object is a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from a stellar nursery called the Eagle Nebula. 7,000 light-years distant from us, the soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers tall.