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Rainbow Nebula

A cloud of glowing rainbow starstuff, shrouded in mystery

Shaundar’s mouth was an O of amazement as he saw the splendour of the space before him. They were passing near to a nebula that showered the void with a prismatic display of incandescent beauty. Shaundar didn’t think he’d ever seen anything so heartbreakingly lovely in his life.   “The Rainbow Nebula,” Garan informed Shaundar, noticing his expression.   “I’ve read about it.”   “Amazing, isn’t it?”   “Yeah,” sighed Shaundar happily.
— from A Few Good Elves by Diane Morrison
  The Rainbow Nebula is a spectacular multi-coloured cloud of stellar debris that is located within visual distance of the Telasian System. It is especially clear from the surface of Peridot and the orbit of Yggdrasil's Sprout.   Little is known about the true nature of the Rainbow Nebula, since the Airts don't seem to connect it to Known Space. Anything that has been learned has been observed strictly from a distance, and much of it is speculation.


Astrophysicists believe that the Rainbow Nebula is a cloud of stellar debris, possibly from a massive collision of multiple stars. The released gasses are probably raw plasma from star-stuff. All colours of the rainbow are visible, from reds to deep purples, but the primary "gasses" appear to glow in yellow shades. The colours also shift and change, like an aurora. This suggests that the nebula might be still in the process of exploding, or that radiation from an unseen sun are illuminating the gasses, like auroras illuminate the atmosphere of an inhabitable planet.   From the orbit of Peridot, the Rainbow Nebula appears to be about the size of a large thumbprint on the firmament. Astrophysicists believe that the nebula is therefore an extremely large object, perhaps several hundred light-years across.


Rainbow Nebula by Andrea Stockel
As a rather distinctive celestial feature, the nebula was utilized as a navigation point from the time that the earliest explorers arrived in Telasian space. Its visual point of reckoning can be used to triangulate the locations of the system's Wormholes & Portals.   Many of the cultures of the Telasian System cite the Rainbow Nebula as the home of a variety of deities and other important spirits. Many of the Nunnehi and some of the Sidhe believe it is the home of the Ancestors or the passage to Tir Nan Og, and as such, they are satisfied that it remains a mystery to starfarers.


Wealthy starfaring tourists often specifically charter ships to view the Rainbow Nebula because of its spectacular beauty. It isn't uncommon for merchant traders to re-route through Telasian space either, just for a peek.   About 400 years ago, the Gnomes of Whirlybird attempted to capitalize on this desire by establishing a space station resort in the outer reaches of the Telasian System. Unfortunately, the station was abandoned and then destroyed in the fighting during the First Interstellar War.
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Alternative Name(s)
Prism Nebula, ᛗᚭ ᛐᚪᛒᛁ ᛞᛖᚾᛏᚢ Mõ Thàbi Déntû /mɒ ðæˈbɪ denˈtu/ "Rainbow Cloud" Balôrrik (Orcish)
Galactic Nebula
Owning Organization
Contested By
The walls were adorned with a painting of the Rainbow Nebula. Shaundar had to admit the artist had captured the likeness almost perfectly. He wondered in a vague way what sort of alchemical compound they had used in the paints to depict its luminescence.
— from Sable's Privateers by Diane Morrison

Cover image: Kosmos Sterne Weltall Space by Andrea Stockel


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Forgemaster Dimitris
Dimitris Havlidis
10 Jul, 2020 05:06

By visual distance do you mean it can be seen with the naked eye? And does this mean that the people on the planets of the system on a clear night they can see a perma-rainbow in the sky?

Join me in the high skies pirates of Lyra ! | Twitter
27 Jan, 2021 02:48

OMG, you commented on this ages ago, but I'm *just now* cleaning up my Notifications, thanks to the new pinning function (thank you!) -- Yes, and yes :) It's just a smudge in the sky for the inner planets, as hard to see as the faintest of the Pleiades, but it's much more clearly visible in space without the interference of atmosphere. Which, as you know (but they probably don't) does mean it's kinda *dangerously* close... and I should probably put all of this in the article. Thanks so much for checking it out!

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga Eater of pickles, Friend of nerds, First of her name
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