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The Monkey Head Nebula is a region of star birth located about 6,400 light-years away. It is also known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252.The nebula is a star-forming region that hosts dusty clouds silhouetted against glowing gas.
The prime source of energy in the nebula is the massive, hot star named HD 42088, which is outside the Hubble image field. This star has a mass 30 times that of the Sun and a surface temperature six times greater. Powerful ultraviolet radiation from the star causes the nebula to shine.
In 2014, astronomers using the NASA Hubble Space Telescope’s powerful infrared vision imaged a small portion of the nebula in the area of the monkey's "eye." Massive, newly formed stars near the center of the nebula (and toward the right in this image) are blasting away at dust. Ultraviolet light from these bright stars helps carve the dust into giant pillars. As interstellar dust particles are warmed from the radiation from the stars in the center of the nebula, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths.
This image, released in celebration of Hubble’s 24th anniversary, demonstrates Hubble’s powerful infrared vision and offers a tantalizing hint of what scientists can expect from the James Webb Space Telescope. Learn more at HubbleSite's NewsCenter.