Slide Image: The Pelican Nebula Ionization Front
In most views, the Pelican and the North America nebula located two degrees east, look to be distinct objects separated by a dark lane extending from where the "Caribbean Sea" and "Atlantic Ocean" ought to be located. However, radio wavelength studies have shown that these two nebulae trace the Eastern and Western parts of a single nebula that is over two degrees in extent. The dark lane is a giant molecular cloud seen in silhouette against the background nebula, which hides the massive stars responsible for its creation. This complex of nebulosity, young stars, and molecular clouds is located about 600 parsecs (1,800 light years) from Earth.
This image reveals about a dozen shocks powered by young stars embedded in the clouds adjacent to the nebula. North is up and West is to the right.
Image Credit: University of Colorado, University of Hawaii and NOAO/AURA/NSF