Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2006 October 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Reflection Nebulas in Orion
Credit & Copyright: T. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage), H. Schweiker, NOAO, AURA, NSF

Explanation: In the vast Orion Molecular Cloud complex, several bright blue nebulas are particularly apparent. Pictured above are two of the most prominent reflection nebulas - dust clouds lit by the reflecting light of bright embedded stars. The more famous nebula is M78, near the image center, cataloged over 200 years ago. On the upper left is the lesser known NGC 2071. The image was taken with the Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA. Astronomers continue to study these reflection nebulas to better understand how interior stars form. The Orion complex lies about 1500 light-years distant, contains the Orion and Horsehead nebulas, and covers much of the constellation of Orion.

Tomorrow's picture: chained galaxies

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Philip Newman. Specific rights apply.
A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.