|This swirling landscape of stars is known as the North American nebula. In visible light, the region resembles North America, but in this new infrared view from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the continent disappears. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech|
The North America Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Jason Ware
Explanation: Here’s a familiar shape in an unfamiliar location! This emission nebula is famous partly because it resembles Earth’s continent of North America. To the right of the North America Nebula, cataloged as NGC 7000, is a less luminous Pelican Nebula. The two emission nebula measure about 50 light-years across, are located about 1500 light-years away, and are separated by a dark absorption cloud. The nebulae can be seen with binoculars from a dark location. Look for a small nebular patch north-east of bright star Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus. It is still unknown which star or stars ionize the red-glowing hydrogen gas.