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
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, near the image centre, catalogued over 200 years ago. On the upper left is the lesser known NGC 2071. The image was taken with the Mayall 4-metre telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA. 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.
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