Here the stellar winds are carving out a cavity in a vast reflection nebula. It’s an area of Orion that many of us have seen before – but not like the Hubble Space Telescope reveals it. Located right next door to the famous Horsehead Nebula, NGC 2023 can be glimpsed in a telescope as a tiny patch of light that closely resembles its more famous cousin – the Orion Nebula. Spanning approximately four light years across and located some 1500 light-years from Earth, this awesome visage conjures up a peaceful picture of the setting Sun.
However, there’s no sun slipping beyond a horizon in NGC 2023. Hidden inside is a hot, newborn star illuminating the dusty cloud of gas which is its womb. Radiation pressure runs rampant from this massive young B-type star hidden just outside the edge of this image – its winds blowing the material away from it and forming the fanciful shapes we see. Caught in the act are young proto-stars awaiting their turn to be born.
Unlike our Earthly clouds, the clouds we see here are 5000 times denser than the interstellar medium. It is here where weird green clumps could be Herbig-Haro objects – the product of high-speed gases impacting the diaphanous material and creating shockwaves. Their lives are short – lasting only a few thousand years – but what an image they create! If only they could sing…
“I can’t light no more of your darkness… All my pictures seem to fade to black and white…I’m growing tired and time stands still before me… Frozen here on the ladder of my life.”
Original Story Source: Hubble News Photo Release.