God's Home

This is NGC 7023. It's also called the Iris Nebula, an immense six-light-year-across cloud of dust located in the constellation Cepheus, 1,300 light-years from planet Earth. I like to call it God's Home. Get inside with this zoom-zoom video:

I mean, if I were God, I would go live there: A well illuminated apartment, with a nice kitchen in which to cook some new stars, and a sunny beach. But since I'm agnostic, I will tell you that this nebula is just a titanic group of particles, with sizes ranging from ten to a hundred times smaller than a Earth dust grain. It doesn't emit anything: NGC 7023 just reflects the light from HD 200775, a nearby magnitude +7 superstar.

While it was discovered in 1794 by Sir William Herschel, this is the first closeup, taken by the Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Scientists are now studying its composition—which is formed by an unknown hydrocarbon-based compound—using Hubble's infrared camera. [Hubble]

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