This complex mass of molecular hydrogen and dust, located 4,000 light years from earth, glows red by emitting light, shines blue by reflecting light and exhibits a pattern of dark lanes that result when dust absorbs light. Much of the light seen in the main part of this nebula is generated by the massive bright star near it's center.

The Cocoon is a stellar nursery containing a relatively young open cluster of stars with several individual constituents that are newly formed. Wide angle, long exposure photographs reveals the nebula to be very extensive- essentially a vast river of interstellar dust.