The Elephant's Trunk is about 2400 light years away from earth - it is part of a much larger nebular region (IC 1396):(click on the image for full resolution)
The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the bright, massive star (HD 206267) which is slightly left of the center of the image. The Elephant's Trunk itself is the birth place of stars. There are several relatively young (100,000 years) stars in it. The ionizing effect of HD 206267 and the wind from the young stars lead to high pressure which forms new protostars.
This image was the first light of my new FLI ML 16070 camera. It's an overall integration time of 6.8 hours.