NGC 7023, often known as the “Iris Nebula,” is a remarkable reflection nebula situated in the constellation Cepheus. This celestial wonder tells a story of light, dust, and the continuous cycle of stellar creation.
Unlike emission nebulae that emit their own light, reflection nebulae like NGC 7023 don’t generate their illumination. Instead, they shine by reflecting the light of nearby stars. In this case, the brilliant star HD 200775 is the cosmic spotlight responsible for the Iris Nebula’s glow.
NGC 7023’s name derives from its intriguing appearance, resembling the delicate petals of an iris flower. The interplay of dark dust lanes and the star’s radiant glow creates an ethereal, flower-like shape that enchants observers.
Deep within the nebula’s depths, new stars are gradually taking shape. The gravitational forces of this dusty cloud are causing matter to clump together, forming nascent stars. These stellar infants will one day shine brightly, continuing the cosmic cycle of creation.
The Iris Nebula serves as a celestial canvas, showcasing the beauty and intricacy of the cosmos. It inspires astronomers and stargazers alike to ponder the vastness of the universe and the timeless processes that shape the night sky. As we admire NGC 7023, we’re reminded of the ever-unfolding story of the universe, where stars are born, shine, and leave their mark on the cosmic tapestry.
Image made in the shadow of the GTC, from the Roque De Los Muchachos, La Palma.