Reflection Nebula in the Pleiades - IC 349

Reflection Nebula in the Pleiades - IC 349 Astronomy Aviation & Space Exploration STEM Visual Arts

This image depicts the Reflection Nebula in the Pleiades - IC 349.  The Hubble Space Telescope took this image.

What we actually see here is a star’s light reflecting a cloud of gas and dust.  What is the star? 

How close is the star to the cloud? We get the answers to those questions from NASA:

In the famous Pleiades star cluster, a star's light slowly destroys a passing cloud of gas and dust. The star, Merope, lies just off the upper right edge of this image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The cloud, known as IC 349, and the star have been in existence for millions of years. In the past 100,000 years, however, part of the cloud has by chance moved so close to the star - only 3,500 times the Earth-Sun distance - that the star's light affects the cloud's dust in an unusual manner.

Pressure of the star's light significantly repels the dust in the reflection nebula with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly. Eventually parts of the dust cloud have become stratified and point toward Merope, with the closest particles being the most massive and so the least affected by the radiation pressure.

A longer term result is the general destruction of the dust by the energetic starlight.

Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Oct 19, 2017

Media Credits

Image, described above, by NASA/STScI/George H. Herbig and Theodore Simon (IfA, University of Hawaii).


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"Reflection Nebula in the Pleiades - IC 349" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 19, 2017.
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