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.

April 14, 1998
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Starlight Reflections
Credit & Copyright: G. Greaney

Explanation: Wisps of dust fill the space between the stars. This dust is usually invisible, subtly acting to dim the light of more distant stars. Sometimes this dust is thick and prominent as dark patches on otherwise bright emission nebulae. Other times this dust may show itself by reflecting the light of bright, nearby stars. Because bright stars tend to be blue, and because dust reflects blue light more easily than red, the resulting reflection nebula usually appears blue. Pictured above is the reflection nebula Sharpless 2-1 in the constellation of Scorpius.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.