This is NGC 1788: a reflection nebula located in the constellation of Orion, some 1,300 light-years from Earth.
Sometimes referred to as the Fox-face nebula, this region is peculiar in many ways. The primary reflection nebula (seen in the center in bluish-white) is surrounded by a contrasting ring of ionized hydrogen. This ring is powered by immensely huge stars that are incredibly young, but invisible from this vantage point.
Then, surrounding those two parts, is another layer, a dark nebula (called Lynds 1616). Dark nebulae, by nature, are composed of high-concentrations of course, densely-packed grains of interstellar dust. This dust obscures the light from stars buried inside of it, but what is unseen can be seen when we look at the clouds at infrared wavelengths.
This same dust also generates the reflection nebula part of this region. When rays of light meet dust particles, they bounce around (or scatter), giving the nebula its characteristic appearance.
R Jay GaBany captured this stunner using a half-meter RCOS telescope and a SBIG STL-11000 camera. See more of his work here.
See a much larger image here.
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