Astronomy Picture of the Week – NGC 1999 Nebula

This photo of nebula NGC 1999 was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1999. It is a good example of a reflection nebula. Just like fog around a street lamp, a reflection nebula shines only because a light source illuminates its dust and the nebula does not emit any visible light of its own. The main light source of this nebula is a recently formed star, visible in this photo near the center. This young star is cataloged as V380 Orionis, and its white color is due to its high surface temperature of about 10,000 degrees Celsius (nearly twice that of our own Sun). Its mass is estimated to be 3.5 times that of the Sun. NGC 1999 lies close to the famous Orion Nebula, about 1,500 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Orion.

Image Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)