This image of a stellar nursery located in the Monkey Head Nebula (NGC 2174) was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope.1 I obtained the image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive and processed the individual narrowband frames to produce this “mapped color” image. I used the standard Hubble pallet of SII to red, Ha to green, and OIII to blue.
NGC 2174 is approximately 6,400 light years from the earth and is located in the constellation of Orion. It is composed mostly of hydrogen gas that has been excited by intense ultraviolet radiation from massive stars within the nebula. This causes the nebular gas to glow brightly much the same way a neon sign emits its light. The large dark columns depicted in the image are clouds of dust that are silhouetted against the glowing gas of the nebula. These clouds of dust and gas are the birth place of many new stars.
1Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive, which is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI/NASA), the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF/ESA) and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC/NRC/CSA).