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The NGC 1973, 75, 77 reflection nebula

Date created: 1983-02-03

Tags: nebula, dust, Orion

This group of nebulous stars is just half a degree north of the much brighter Orion Nebula and has largely been ignored because of it. The group of stars here appear as a single star to the unaided eye, the northernmost 'star' in the sword of Orion. Most of the blue nebulosity is starlight scattered by dust, while some of the stars are sufficiently hot to excite the wisps of hydrogen that linger here and create a distinctive red glow.

Seen for the first time in this image, to the south of the nebula (towards the bottom of the picture) are faint traces of the yellow reflected light of the Orion nebula itself. This reflection of a bright nebula is better seen on the deep image made from UK Schmidt plates. Together, the stars and nebula seen here create an impression of quiet beauty quite unlike the maelstrom of the adjacent Orion Nebula. All these objects are about 1350 light years distant.

Photograph made from plates taken in January 1983.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 38 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory