Astral Imaging at Dogwood Ridge Observatory

Latitude: 3748'51.0" N"
Scottsville, Virginia 24590


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The Elephant Trunk Nebula

Image Information

Elephant's Trunk nebula

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Elephant's Trunk nebula
emission nebula
54345main ic1396 highres.jpg
Spitzer Space Telescope photo of the nebula
Observation data
Distance 2,400 ly
Constellation Cepheus
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Elephant's Trunk nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth.[1] The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant's Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star (HD 206267) that is just to the west of IC 1396A. (In the Figure above, the massive star is just to the left of the edge of the image.) The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star's harsh ultraviolet rays.

The Elephant's Trunk nebula is now thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of million years, by the standards of stars, which live for billions of years) stars are present in a small, circular cavity in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity.

The combined action of the light from the massive star ionizing and compressing the rim of the cloud, and the wind from the young stars shifting gas from the center outward lead to very high compression in the Elephant's Trunk nebula. This pressure has triggered the current generation of protostars.[2]


  1. Jump up ^ Matthews, H. I. (1979). "High resolution radio observations of bright rims in IC 1396". Astronomy and Astrophysics 75: 345–350. Bibcode:1979A&A....75..345M. 
  2. Jump up ^ Barentsen, G. (2011). "T Tauri candidates and accretion rates using IPHAS: method and application to IC1396". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. arXiv:1103.1646. Bibcode:2011MNRAS.415..103B. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18674.x. 

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The Elephant Trunk Nebula

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The Elephant Trunk Nebula V2

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This image consists of 14 luminance, 8 red, 7 green, and 9 blue 15 minute exposures for a total of 9-1/2 hours. Version 2 added 1.5 additional hours of Luminance data with that result having had deconvolution. The rgb images are binned 2x2 while the luminance images are binned 1x1. All taken at -15C. All data was acquired using MaxImDl/CCD version 5.24 using ACP7.1.  Pix Insight version was used for processing. Dithered guiding was on. This image is a placeholder for the final that I hope to have much more and better data.

Equipment and Location Information

Date Sept. 20 - 21, 2014
Location Dogwood Ridge Observatory
Optics Optical Guidance Systems 12.5" RC @f/9
Mount Astro Physics AP1200GTO
Camera SBIG STL-11002M/CW8
Filters Baader LRGB Ha 7nm,SII 8nm, OIII 8.5nm - 50.8mm Unmounted Filters
Conditions Temperature low to mid 60s with moderate to good  seeing. Transparency good to moderate.

  Last Modified :10/02/12 01:10 PM