Comet!? No- this object was put into the correct category as a diffuse nebula.
The bright star at the tip of the cloud of gas is called R Monocerotis. It is
a variable star that is actually in the background of the this cloud of
gas. The gas cloud is around 1 light year in extent and due to the variability
of R Mon- the entire nebula changes in its brightness. However, R Mon is
mysterious because the mechanism of its variations is uncertain. The most
accepted explanation is that there exist clouds of gas and dust very close
to R Mon; and these clouds eclipse R Mon (as they orbit about it)
casting shadows onto the foreground
|L R G B color production was used to create this image.||
Minimum credit line: Carole Westphal/Adam Block/NOAO/ AURA/NSF
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