The nebula resembles a pelican in shape from rimward, hence the name. The Pelican Nebula is a large area of emission nebula in the Terran-sky constellation Cygnus (the Swan), close to Deneb, and divided from its brighter, larger neighbor, the North America Nebula, by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust.
The Pelican is much studied because it has a particularly active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds. The light from young energetic stars is slowly transforming cold gas to hot and causing an ionization front gradually to advance outward. Particularly dense filaments of cold gas are seen to still remain. Millions of years from now this nebula might no longer be known as the Pelican, as the balance and placement of stars and gas will leave something that appears completely different.
The Pelican Nebula (IC 5070) and the nearby North America Nebula are in fact parts of the same interstellar cloud of ionized hydrogen (H II region). Between Terra and the nebula complex lies a band of interstellar dust that absorbs the light of stars and nebulae behind it and thereby is responsible for the shape as we see it. The distance of the nebula complex is not precisely known, nor is the star responsible for ionizing the hydrogen so that it emits light. If the star inducing the ionization is Deneb, as some sources say, the nebula complex would lie at a distance of about 550 pc from Sol, and its absolute size (6° apparent diameter on the sky) would be 30 pc.
It (along with the North American Nebula) is located in (and comprises the majority of) the Delta Quadrant of the Itvikiastaf Sector of the Zhodani Consulate, straddling Zhdanshianch Subsector and Sierfiens Subsector.
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