The Reflection Nebula in Orion
Just weeks after NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a nebula in the constellation Orion. The Heritage astronomers, in collaboration with scientists in Texas and Ireland, used Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) to obtain the color image. NGC 1999 is an example of a reflection nebula. Like fog around a street lamp, a reflection nebula shines only because the light from an imbedded source illuminates its dust; the nebula does not emit any visible light of its own. NGC 1999 lies close to the famous Orion Nebula, about 1,500 light-years from Earth, in a region of our Milky Way galaxy where new stars are being formed actively. NGC 1999 was discovered some two centuries ago by Sir William Herschel and his sister Caroline, and was cataloged later in the 19th century as object 1999 in the New General Catalogue. This data was collected in January 2000 by the Hubble Heritage Team with the collaboration of star-formation experts C. Robert O'Dell (Rice University), Thomas P. Ray (Dublin Institute for Advanced Study), and David Corcoran (University of Limerick).