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Stars and stellar evolution
Monkey Head Nebula

Monkey Head Nebula, NGC 2174


This is a star-forming nebula with an associated open cluster of stars. The nebula is mostly composed of hydrogen gas, which is ionized by ultraviolet radiation emitted by the hot stars.


Found in the constellation Orion, in the Northern Hemisphere

Distance from Earth

About 6,400 light-years away


The nebula is about 50 light-years across.

The ground-based image (left), taken by an amateur astrophotographer, shows the star-forming nebula in visible light. The white box marks the area observed by Hubble. The Hubble image (right), taken in near-infrared light by the Wide Field Camera 3, reveals dense pillars of gas and dust.

Enlarge Image


"Fast Facts: Monkey Head Nebula" is a table that lists the name, description, location, size, and distance of the nebula from Earth. A picture of the nebula is included.

Printer-friendly web page
Adaptable, at teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Use this resource as:

A source of information. Read the table to find out about this object.

A mapping activity. Locate the nebula's associated constellation on a star map.

A large-number recognition activity. Have students look at several Fast Fact tables, including this one. Ask them to place the objects described in the Fast Fact tables in order, starting with the object closest to Earth and ending with the one farthest away.

An inquiry tool. Have students write down questions they would like answered about the image and the information in the Fast Facts table.

An engagement tool. Involve students in a discussion.

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