Behold: curious formations and bizarre textures visible in the vicinity of the Cone Nebula, 2,700 light years from Earth.
Well, this is how it would have been in 681BC, when – who can forget – an assassin brought the 24 year reign of Assyrian king Sennacherib to an untimely end (that’s what you get for sacking Babylon).
Anyhoo – what’s this? Some kind of interstellar dust cloud? To wit:
The unusual shapes originate from fine interstellar dust reacting in complex ways with the energetic light and hot gas being expelled by the young stars. The brightest star on the right of the featured picture is S Mon, while the region just below it has been nicknamed the Fox Fur Nebula for its color and structure. The blue glow directly surrounding S Mon results from reflection, where neighboring dust reflects light from the bright star. The red glow that encompasses the whole region results not only from dust reflection but also emission from hydrogen gas ionized by starlight. S Mon is part of a young open cluster of stars named NGC 2264, located about 2500 light years away toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). Even though it points right at S Mon, details of the origin of the mysterious geometric Cone Nebula, visible on the far left, remain a mystery.