The Rosette Nebula
Approximately 5,000 light-years away from us, open cluster NGC 2244 stands at the center of this huge glowing cloud of gas. Heated by stars, it was created only a few million years ago when a giant molecular cloud collapsed.
Multiple hot, bright stars that emitting copious quantities of ultra-violet light strip electrons from interstellar gas atoms, turning the atoms into ions, and the gas into a glowing plasma.
The yellow color seen in this image is the result of ionized hydrogen emitting a very intense red light and oxygen ions emitting green light.
Studies have shown that, over the billions of years of evolution of our galaxy, several generations of stars must have contributed to the enrichment of the original molecular cloud.
The cycle of star birth, death and rebirth will continue for billions of years to come.