Seeming to lie at the end of a cosmic dust trail the Cocoon Nebula is an active star forming region. The central HII region is cataloged separately as Sharpless 125. The center of
this nebula is populated by very young (1 million years) stars. It does have an immensely hot star within that generates the flux required to ionize the surrounding gas molecules.
The darkness seen along the center of this image is not a gap in the stars, it is very dense dust which obscures the stars behind it.
OTA: William Optcs Star71
Camera: Atik 460ex w/EFW2 filter wheel
Filters: Astrodon Ha/LRGB
Mount: AP Mach1
Exposure: Ha:L:R:G:B 120:30:60:60:60 (m) rgb bin 2x2