Fox Fur Nebula

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The Fox Fur Nebula is an H II region located in Monoceros constellation. It lies at an approximate distance of 2,700 light years from Earth. The nebula is part of the NGC 2264 region, which also includes the Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula. It was named the Fox Fur because of its appearance. The texture and colour of the nebula resemble the head of a red fox stole.

The Fox Fur Nebula lies just to the north of the Cone Nebula, near the bright variable star S Monocerotis. The two nebulae are less than a degree away and part of the same molecular cloud.

fox fur nebula,ngc 2264

Fox Fur Nebula. Image: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

The Fox Fur Nebula contains enormous quantities of interstellar dust and gas, which are illuminated by the massive young stars that are being formed within the nebula’s thick clouds.

The nebula’s red glow is a result of hydrogen gas being stimulated to emit its own light by the strong ultraviolet radiation from the massive, young, hot blue stars in the cluster. The nebula’s blue areas are composed mainly of clouds of dust that reflect the blue light of the young stars.

Fox Fur Nebula

Constellation: Monoceros
Object type: H II region (diffuse + dark nebula)
Distance: 2,700 light years
Designations: Sharpless 273, Sh2-273, NGC 2264 (portion)

fox fur nebula,christmas tree cluster,cone nebula

Fox Fur Nebula (top right), the Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula. This colour image of the region known as NGC 2264 — an area of sky that includes the sparkling blue baubles of the Christmas Tree star cluster — was created from data taken through four different filters (B, V, R and H-alpha) with the Wide Field Imager at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, 2400 m high in the Atacama Desert of Chile in the foothills of the Andes. The image shows a region of space about 30 light-years across. Image: ESO