Pictures of the Elephant's Trunk Nebula
Images and facts about the Elephant's Trunk Nebula, a dense pocket of gas and dust in IC 1396.
The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is over 20 lightyears long and can be found running through IC 1396, a young star cluster embedded within a cloud of glowing, ionised gas in the Cepheus constellation.
The Elephant's Trunk is composed of cool interstellar dust and gas, which blocks out light on its way to Earth and leaves behind a long, thin silhouette that gives the nebula its name (and makes it one of many nebulae that look like animals).
Pockets of dust and gas like these make for perfect stellar nurseries and are consequently subject to energetic bouts of star formation deep within.
Conversely, the hot radiation from these newborn stars blasts away the cosmic dust, ultimately destroying the ingredients that led to their formation in the first place.
The IC 1396 complex is located about 3,000 lightyears away and covers an apparent width of over 10 full Moons in the sky.
Below is a selection of images of the Elephant's Trunk Nebula captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers from around the world.