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.
March 1, 1999
Explanation: Reflection nebulae reflect light from a nearby star. Many small carbon grains in the nebula reflect the light. The blue colour typical of reflection nebula is caused by blue light being more efficiently scattered by the carbon dust than red light. The brightness of the nebula is determined by the size and density of the reflecting grains, and by the colour and brightness of the neighbouring star(s). NGC 1435, pictured above, surrounds Merope (23 Tau), one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades (M45). The Pleiades nebulosity is caused by a chance encounter between an open cluster of stars and a molecular cloud. The unusual area on the far left, known as Bernard's Merope Nebula (IC 349), reflects visible light with unusually high efficiency.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.