ESA’s Herschel infrared space telescope has made an unexpected discovery: a dark hole in space. The hole has provided astronomers with a surprising glimpse into the end of the star-forming process. A cloud of bright reflective gas known to astronomers as NGC 1999 sits next to a black patch of sky. For most of the 20th century, such black patches have been known to be dense clouds of dust and gas that block light from passing through.
This photo from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows an ominous pillar of gas and dust known as the Cone Nebula. The image shows the top portion of the nebula that is 2.5 light years in height. The Cone Nebula is 2,500 light-years from Earth in the Monoceros constellation. The red halo of light seen around the pillar is caused when ultraviolet radiation causes hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow.