Moving Through the Monkey Head

The Monkey Head Nebula (aka NGC 2174) is a star-forming region where bright, newborn stars illuminate the surrounding gas with energetic radiation. The radiation wears away the lower density gas, but pockets of higher density gas resist the erosion, forming pillars and peaks along the inner edge of the roughly circular cloud.

This video showcases visible and infrared light views of a collection of pillars beginning with a view of the night sky near the constellation of Gemini and Orion. It zooms through observations from the Digitized Sky Survey 2 to reveal a Hubble Space Telescope visible light view the pillars. A cross-fade transitions from Hubble‘s visible and infrared light views to a simulated 3D model of the region. The “camera” then pulls back to reveal the landscape of evaporating peaks of gas and dust surrounded by stars. The visualization is intended to be a reasonable interpretation (not scientifically accurate). Distances within the model are significantly compressed.

Video Credit: NASA