Elephant’s Trunk Neb­ula (IC 1396A)

Elephant's Trunk Nebula (IC 1396A) Astrophotography Martin Rusterholz

The Elephant’s Trunk neb­ula (IC 1396A) is a con­cen­tra­tion of inter­stel­lar gas and dust in the star cluster IC 1396 and ion­ized gas region loc­ated in the con­stel­la­tion Ceph­eus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. The piece of the neb­ula shown here is the dark, dense glob­ule IC 1396A; it is com­monly called the Ele­phant Trunk neb­ula because of its appear­ance at vis­ible wavelengths, where it is a dark patch with a bright, sinu­ous rim. The bright rim is the sur­face of the dense cloud that is being illu­min­ated and ion­ized by a very bright, massive star that is just to the west of IC 1396A.

The Ele­phant Trunk neb­ula is now thought to be site of star form­a­tion, con­tain­ing sev­er­al very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were dis­covered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of mil­lion years) stars are present in a small, cir­cu­lar cav­ity in the head of the glob­ule. Winds from these young stars may have emp­tied the cavity.


RCOS 14.5” f/​8
Astro­don Gen2
LRGB 260:120:120:120 min.
ROSA Remote Obser­vat­or­ies South­ern Alps
© Mar­tin Ruster­holz, Astrophotographer

Find­er Chart Elephant’s Trunk Nebula

Elephant's Trunk Nebula (IC 1396A) Sky Chart Astrophotography Martin Rusterholz

Image cre­ated by Skychart