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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Is this a painting or a photograph? In this beautiful celestial still life composed with a cosmic brush, dusty nebula NGC 2170 shines near the image center. Reflecting the light of nearby hot stars, NGC 2170 is joined by other bluish reflection nebulae, a red emission region, many dark absorption nebulae, and a backdrop of colorful stars.
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NGC 2170: Celestial Still Life 
Image Credit & Copyright: Leonardo Julio & Carlos Milovic (Astronomia Pampeana [2])

Explanation: Is this a painting or a photograph? In this beautiful celestial still life [3] composed with a cosmic brush, dusty nebula NGC 2170 [4] shines near the image center. Reflecting the light of nearby hot stars, NGC 2170 [5] is joined by other bluish reflection [6] nebulae, a red emission [7] region, many dark absorption nebulae [8], and a backdrop of colorful stars [9]. Like the common household items still life painters [10] often choose for their subjects, the clouds of gas, dust, and hot stars pictured above [11] are also commonly found in this setting – a massive, star-forming molecular cloud in the constellation of the Unicorn [12] (Monoceros [13]). The giant molecular cloud [14]Mon R2 [15], is impressively close, estimated [16] to be only 2,400 light-years [17] or so away. At that distance, this canvas [18] would be over 60 light-years across.