Hubble spies ghostly Reflection Nebula
BALTIMORE, Maryland -- A space shuttle landing on a cloudy
day? A bat flying in a full moon fog? A Klingon ship with a
faulty cloaking device? Not even close. This recent image
snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Reflection
Nebula, showcasing a stark contrast between light and dark
clouds in the cosmos.
Located near the Orion Nebula, the bright clouds of the
Reflection Nebula shine in the reflected light of Orionis, a
young star that burns nearly twice as hot as the sun, according to the Space Telescope Science Institute.
While the cosmic material around Orionis glows like an
illuminated mist around a street lamp, its light cannot pass
through the dark cloud that dominates the central area of the
image, the institute said in a statement.
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Known as a Bok globule, the oddly shaped fog is a collection
of gas, molecules and dust so dense it absorbs the light
behind it. Orionis itself, however, peaks around the edge of
the silhouette on the left.
The star burns at about 10,000 degrees Celsius and has more
than three times the mass of the sun. It still retains a
cloud of residual material from its birth, which forms the
The nebula is 1,500 light years from Earth in an area of the
Milky Way galaxy where many stars are born. And new one could
be forming inside this Bok globule, as dust and gas condense
under the weight of their own gravity, astronomers say.
Hubble Heritage Team astronomers, in collaboration with
scientists in Texas and Ireland, released this January 2000
Hubble image this week.
The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, operates the orbiting Hubble telescope.
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