JASON WARE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JASON WARE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Reflection nebulae. Three nebulae (NGC 1973, 1975, and 1977) are seen here, and are sometimes called NGC 1973/75/77 or just NGC 1977. This region is in the constellation of Orion, just above the Orion Nebula (M42, not seen). A nebula is a cloud of gas and dust in space, many light years across. It is called a reflection nebula when it reflects light from nearby stars (some seen behind the nebulae). This scattering and reflection of starlight causes the blue colour seen. A red colour (centre) arises when hydrogen gas is ionised. Nebulae contain the materials to form new stars and planets. This set of stars and nebulae are collectively visible to the unaided eye as one of the 'stars' in Orion.
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