Astronomy Picture of the Day

M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds in Orion

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M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds in Orion

An eerie blue glow and ominous columns of dark dust highlight M78 and other bright
reflection nebula
in the constellation of Orion.

The dark filamentary
dust not only absorbs light, but also reflects the
light of several bright blue stars that
formed recently in the nebula.

Of the two reflection nebulas pictured above, the more famous nebula is M78, on the upper right, while NGC 2071 can be seen to its lower left.

The same type of scattering that colors the
daytime sky further enhances the blue color.

is about five
light-years across and visible through a small telescope.

M78 appears
only as it was 1600 years ago, however, because that is how long it takes light to go from
there to here.

belongs to the larger
Orion Molecular Cloud Complex
that contains the
Great Nebula in Orion and the
Horsehead Nebula.

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