NGC 2174, located in the constellation of Orion, is approximately 6,400 light years distant. It is an open cluster of relatively new stars that formed in a large molecular cloud of gas and dust. This prominent celestial object is known as the Monkey Head Nebula. Strong stellar winds and radiation from the central large, hot, stars have cleared the central part of the nebula pushing the dust and gas outwardly forming a shell like structure. A dense formation located at the 9:30 o’clock position in the image above is a stellar nursery which has been the object of scientific study. The Hubble Space Telescope imaged this feature in amazing detail. An image obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive may be viewed here.
The image above was assembled from three narrowband filtered images. These consisted of SII mapped to red, Ha mapped to green, and OIII mapped to blue. The resulting image is a false color image using the standard Hubble pallet.