It's pretty frickin' cool!
Reshared post from +Scott Anderson
Animated gif of IC1396, a nebula in the constellation of Cepheus. It contains the well-known Elephant's Trunk Nebula and is about 2400 ly distant. Illumined by a huge O star (HD 206267), it's one of the largest emission nebulae in the Northern hemisphere.
An emission nebula consists of a cloud of ionized gas. Lower intensity will result in a predominance of red light, as hydrogen has a low energy of ionization. Green and blue will start to emerge as the intensity of the emission rises. The dark portions in the foreground are interstellar dust blocking the light from behind.
From the artist's site, linked below:
Since astronomical objects are too far away, no real parallax can be imaged. Doe to that, I have developed a method to turn my images to various 3D-formats. My work flow is based on scientific data from the object, distance and the source of ionization are usually known. The different types of the nebulae has typical structures, pillar like formations must point to the source of ionization, the radiation pressure forms kind of hollow area, inside of the nebula, around newly born stars, dark nebulae must be at front of the emission ones to show, etc… rest of the missing information is then replaced with an artistic vision.