NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently revealed a spectacular image of a “mysterious cosmic keyhole.” Known for its momentous discoveries, the telescope captured the image of NGC 1999, a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion, 1350 light-years from Earth.
The incredible image showed a “peculiar portrait” of the swirling clouds of gas and dust. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shared the ethereal image of the nebula on Friday. “The nebula is literally composed of stardust: the leftover dust and gas from a newborn star!” NASA Hubble wrote in the caption of a Twitter post.
Take a look below:
Look into this cosmic keyhole!
This one #HubbleFriday shows NGC 1999, a reflection nebula located 1350 light-years from Earth. The nebula is literally composed of stardust: the leftover dust and gas from a newborn star! Read more: https://t.co/oZtNXNhRP6pic.twitter.com/piRng527lJ
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) October 28, 2022
“Like fog curling around a street lamp, reflection nebulae like NGC 1999 shine through the light from an embedded source,” the US space agency said in a press release.
NASA explained that the nebula’s light source is a baby star called V380 Orion. The most striking aspect of the photo is the prominent hole in the center, which resembles an inky black keyhole of cosmic proportions.
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In the press release, NASA said the image comes from a 1999 revision of older Hubble data. At the time, astronomers believed the dark spot in the 1999 NGC was something called the “Bok globule” — a dense, cold cloud of gas, molecules and cosmic dust obscuring background light.
However, further data from other telescopes revealed that the keyhole is actually an empty region of space. “The origin of this unexplained rift at the heart of NGC 1999 remains unknown,” NASA wrote.
In particular, the Hubble telescope, which was launched more than 30 years ago, is a joint project of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).
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