Rho Ophiuchi: The Brilliantly Colored Interstellar Cloud complex is a dark nebula of gas and dust located 1° south of the star ρ Ophiuchi in the constellation Ophiuchus. This cloud is one of the closest star-forming regions to the Solar System.
Featuring the bright, red supergiant star Antares, the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex is one of the most vibrant and colorful nebulas in space and the closest star-forming region to the solar system. Located approximately 460 light-years away from Earth, the interstellar clouds of gas and dust that makeup Rho Ophiuchi contain emission nebulas that are rich with red, glowing hydrogen gas and blue reflection nebulas that reflect starlight from their surroundings. The dark-brown regions in the cloud complex consist of interstellar dust grains that prevent any light from passing through.
The distant globular star cluster M4, is visible to the right of Antares, which is one of the brighter stars in the night sky. However, M4 lies far beyond the colorful cloud complex, at a distance of some 7,000 light-years from Earth.
The image was taken from a very dark site in the South African desert. Author: Adam Jesionkiewicz