Meet the monster who lives in the Elephant's Trunk Nebula

This nebula is located about 2,400 light-years from Earth. It gets its nickname from its elongated, trunk-like shape, but this close-up on the main body of the nebula reveals something else...is that a monster staring back at us?

Of course, any weird faces you might see in the nebula are merely a case of cosmic pareidolia, but there actually is something monstrous inside the cloud. A NASA astronomer explains:

The only real monster here, however, is a bright young star too far from Earth to be dangerous. Energetic light from this star is eating away the dust of the dark cometary globule at the top right the image. Jets and winds of particles emitted from this star are also pushing away ambient gas and dust. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the IC 1396 complex is relatively faint and covers a region on the sky with an apparent width of more than 10 full moons. Recently, over 100 young stars have been discovered forming in the nebula.

To get a better idea of why this is more usually called the Elephant's Trunk, check out this photo of the whole nebula.

Via NASA.