- Object: Emission nebula
- Constellation: Cygnus
- Right ascension: 20h 50m 48.0s
- Declination: +44° 20′ 60.0″
- Apparent size: 60′ x 50′
- Apparent magnitude: 8.0
- Distance: 1,800 light years
- Designations: Pelican Nebula, IC 5070, IC 5067
The Pelican Nebula is an emission nebula located in the constellation Cygnus, which represents the Swan, near the bright star Deneb. The nebula was named for its resemblance to a pelican and is associated with the neighboring North America Nebula (NGC 7000).
The Pelican Nebula is one of several notable nebulae found in the area of the night sky with the Northern Cross. It is located around 1,800 light years away from the Solar System and has an apparent size of 60′ x 50′. It is an active star forming region with a particularly active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds.
The nebula’s appearance is defined by dark dust clouds, which outline the pelican’s long bill and eye, and bright clouds of ionized gas, which form the curved shape of the pelican’s head and neck. The balance and placement of stars and gas will gradually change to leave the nebula looking completely different millions of years from now. It has an apparent magnitude of 8.0.
The young stars in the nebula are heating up the cold gas in their vicinity and, as a result, an ionization front gradually moves outward. A number of unusually dense filaments of cold gas are still visible, among them two jets emanating from the Herbig-Haro object 555 (HH 555). Herbig-Haro objects are jets of matter and partially ionized gas ejected by newborn stars, which appear as patches of nebulosity in star-forming regions.
Neighbors In The Same Cloud
The Pelican Nebula is part of the same interstellar cloud of ionized hydrogen (H II region) as the North America Nebula, separated by a dark band of dust. They are both located in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way. At optical wavelengths, the North America Nebula and the Pelican Nebula appear distinct as they are separated by the silhouette of the dark band of interstellar dust L935, which was catalogued by American astronomer Beverly T. Lynds.
In 1959, American astronomer Stewart Sharpless listed the two nebulae together in his second list of 313 bright nebulae as Sh2-117.
The Pelican Nebula is listed as IC 5070 and IC 5067 in the Index Catalogue. The nebula itself is catalogued as IC 5070, while IC 5067 is a prominent part of it, found along the curve of the celestial pelican’s head and neck. It is a ridge of emission spanning about 10 light years, home to many newly formed stars.
- By Miodrag Sekulic – Miodrag Sekulic, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21161162