IC 1396A ELEPHANT TRUNK NEBULA
Image Credit & Copyright: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF). CLICK for larger image and look below for information and links.
As promised, let’s delve deeper into the heart of IC 1396 and make a stop at the stunning Elephant Trunk Nebula or as its cataloged; IC 1396A. As with most objects in the cosmos, effectively matching the name to what you see sometimes takes some creativity as ehh….I suppose you can get an elephant trunk out of this.
As stated in the last post, this is a star forming region with stars nearing birth and some that have even come to life in the last 100,000 years or so thus, they haven’t had enough time to open a cavern out of the mass of gas and dust that created them. This entire object is created and illuminated by star HD 206267 which resides at the center of IC 1396 (see last post). As its stellar winds impact this elongated star forming tower it blows away lighter gas and dust and the remaining thicker region is then compressed as it’s morphed and pushed around. That action creates the conditions necessary to kick off the birth of new stars; this process is known as Radiation Driven Implosion (RDI). The downfall for these stellar infants is that these protostars may never get a chance to come to life if the radiation/stellar wind bombardment from HD 206267 tears the region apart. Only time will tell if the cocoon that these stars have to protect them will buy them enough time to complete their accretion, compression, heating and finally, hopefully, allow for ignition.
NAME: IC 1396A.
WHAT IS IT?: Cometary star forming globule in IC 1396.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Roughly 20 light years in length.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 2500 light years.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Inside IC 1396 which is in the constellation Cepheus “The King of Aethiopia” in Greek mythology.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 21h 35m 37s / DEC 57d 24′ 03″.
NOAO page for this image: http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im1172.html
NASA APOD for this image: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140414.html