Also known as vdB 142, the cosmic elephant’s trunk is over 20 light-years long. This colourful close-up view was recorded through narrow band filters that transmit the light from ionised hydrogen, sulphur, and oxygen atoms in the region. The resulting composite highlights the bright, swept-back ridges that outline pockets of cool interstellar dust and gas. Such embedded, dark, tendril-shaped clouds contain the raw material for star formation and hide protostars within.
(Image: Chuck Ayoub)