Hot, young stars and cosmic pillars of gas and dust seem to crowd into NGC 7822. At the edge of a giant molecular cloud toward the northern constellation Cepheus, the glowing star forming region lies about 3,000 light-years away. Image Credit Manuel Fernández Suarez
Within the nebula, bright edges and dark shapes are highlighted in this colorful skyscape. The image includes data from narrowband filters, mapping emission from atomic oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur into blue, green, and red hues. The atomic emission is powered by energetic radiation from the hot stars, whose powerful winds and radiation also sculpt and erode the denser pillar shapes. Stars could still be forming inside the pillars by gravitational collapse, but as the pillars are eroded away, any forming stars will ultimately be cutoff from their reservoir of star stuff. This field spans around 40 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 7822.
NGC 7822 is a young star forming complex in the constellation of Cepheus. The complex encompasses the emission region designated Sharpless 171, and the young cluster of stars named Berkeley 59. The complex is believed to be some 800-1000 pc distant, with the younger components aged no more than a few million years.
The complex also includes one of the hottest stars discovered within 1 kpc of the Sun, namely BD+66 1673, which is an eclipsing binary system consisting of an O5V that exhibits a surface temperature of nearly 45000 K and a luminosity ~100000 times that of the Sun.
The star is one of the primary sources illuminating the nebula and shaping the complex’s famed pillars of creation-type formations, the elephant trunks.