October 5, 2022

This is a Classic Example of a Reflection Nebula, Where the Reflected Light From Young Hot Stars Illuminates a Protostellar Cloud of Gas and Dust

The interplay of energy and matter produces stunning sights. Here on Earth, we take pleasure in sundowns, rainbows, and auroras and daybreaks. However out in space, nature produces extraordinarily spectacular structures called nebulae that can span hundreds of light-years. Nebulae are most likely the most gorgeous objects out there.
While browsing for young stars and their circumstellar disks, Hubble recorded a traditional reflection nebula.

A nebula starts with a cloud of interstellar dust. There are many clouds of dust out there in space, however its the distance of a star that brings a nebula to life. The light from the star scatters through the cloud and shows off of the gas, producing a beautiful screen. Nebulae are often blue due to the method light scatters. Blue light, due to the fact that of its wavelength, is more quickly shown from grains of dust.
In the early days of astronomy, astronomers werent specific what they saw when they spotted a nebula. The word nebula implies cloud or fog in Latin, so early astronomers called anything that appeared cloud-like a nebula. They even called galaxies nebulae.
As time went on and telescopes and observations improved, they figured more things out. In 1912, American astronomer Vesto Slipher comprehended that light from a nearby star lights nebulae up rather than some intrinsic quality of the nebula itself.
Hubble observed a little part of IC2631 in a study taking a look at the disks of newly-formed stars.Credits: NASA, ESA, K. Stapelfeldt (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and ESO; Processing; Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).
IC 2631 is a reflection nebula about 500 light-years away in a huge star-forming region called the Chamaeleon Cloud Complex. A star named HD 97300 supplies the light. HD 97300 is a young, massive star that hasnt entered the Main Sequence.
This picture of IC 2631 is from the ESOs La Silla Observatory in Chiles Atacama Desert. Image Credit: ESO/La Silla Observatory.
Hubble took this image of IC 2631 while it was trying to find young stars and their protoplanetary disks. The disks consist of gas and dust, and each young star kinds with one of these disks. The gas and dust are matter that wasnt taken up by the star as it forms. Ultimately, planets form from this remaining material.
Theres no visible protoplanetary disk around HD 97300. Above the reflection nebula are two dark clouds called dark nebulae.

Out in area, nature develops extremely stunning structures called nebulae that can span hundreds of light-years. There are numerous clouds of dust out there in space, however its the proximity of a star that brings a nebula to life. The word nebula suggests cloud or fog in Latin, so early astronomers called anything that appeared cloud-like a nebula. Above the reflection nebula are two dark clouds called dark nebulae. Eventually, the star wont light the nebulae up so brightly.

In a sense, the young star– called a T-Tauri star– is a more younger, more fantastic variation of its adult self. Eventually, the star wont light the nebulae up so vibrantly.
But theres a lot of gas and dust in the area, and other stars may form. If and when they do, they may light up the surrounding gas into another nebula.
However humankind might be long preceded that ever takes place, if it does. So lets enjoy the sights while we still can.
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