The Rosette Nebula is not the only cosmic cloud
of gas and dust to evoke the imagery
of flowers -- but it is the most famous.
At the edge of a large
in Monoceros, some 5,000 light
years away, the petals of this
rose are actually a
stellar nursery whose lovely, symmetric shape is
sculpted by the
winds and radiation from its central cluster of
hot young stars.
The stars in the energetic cluster, cataloged
as NGC 2244, are only a few million years old, while the central cavity
in the Rosette Nebula,
cataloged as NGC 2237, is about 50 light-years in diameter.
The nebula can be seen
firsthand with a small telescope toward the constellation of the