Image Credit: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT) & Giovanni Anselmi (Coelum Astronomia), Hawaiian Starlight

Located approximately 2,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Monoceros - just north of the Cone Nebula -- the Fox Fur nebula is a beautiful sight to behold. The name of this emission nebula was chosen based on the shape, texture and color of the clouds, which, to some extent, give the nebula a resemblance to fox fur.

This beast was formed of large quantities of interstellar dust and gas clouds. Said materials interact with the photons emitted from the hot, massive, young stars shrouded in the thick blankets of gas and dust. The pinkish-brown areas are formed thanks to a combination two things: large pockets of interstellar dust clouds and from the emissions generated through the ionization of hydrogen gas atoms.

Just above the bottom of the picture is the massively big and bright star, called S Monocerotis. This incredibly massive variable star has an orbital period of about 25 years. It's also a type O main sequence star that is over 8,500 times more luminous than the sun! The blueish haze directly surrounding the star is generated when rays of light come in contact with individual grains of interstellar dust.

See a larger image here. A high-resolution version can be seen here.

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