The Cocoon Nebula, listed as IC 5146, is a nebula of great beauty located about 4,000 light years away, in the constellation of the Swan.
Inside the nebula there is a new open cluster of stars in full development. Like other stellar nurseries, the Cocoon Nebula is, at the same time, a emission, reflection and absorption nebula. Some speculations based on recent measurements argue that the massive star in the center of the photograph opened a hole in the existing molecular cloud, through which much of the glowing material flows.
The same star, formed about 100,000 years ago, now provides the source of energy for most of the light emitted and reflected from this nebula.
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