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.
2003 January 21
Explanation: In the vast Orion Molecular Cloud complex, several bright blue nebulae are particularly apparent. Pictured above are two of the most prominent reflection nebulae - dust clouds lit by the reflecting light of bright embedded stars. The more famous nebula is M78, on the upper right, catalogued over 200 years ago. On the lower left is the lesser known NGC 2071. Astronomers continue to study these reflection nebulae to better understand how interior stars form. The Orion complex lies about 1500 light-years distant, contains the Orion and Horsehead nebulae, and covers much of the constellation of Orion.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& NASA SEU Edu. Forum
& Michigan Tech. U.