These great clouds of cold hydrogen resemble summer afternoon thunderheads. They tower above the surface of a molecular cloud on the edge of the nebula. So-called "elephant trunk" pillars resist being heated and eaten away by blistering ultraviolet radiation from the nebula's brightest stars.
Credit for Hubble Image: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA);
Credit for CTIO Image: N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley) and NOAO/AURA/NSF