Hubble Space Telescope Spies a Cosmic Keyhole

Reflection Nebula NGC 1999

Hubble Space Telescope portrait showcases NGC 1999, a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. NGC 1999 is around 1350 light-years from Earth and lies near the Orion Nebula, the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, K. Noll

NGC 1999, a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion is showcased in this peculiar portrait from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Located approximately 1350 light-years from Earth, NGC 1999 lies near the Orion Nebula, which is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. In fact, NGC 1999 itself is a relic of recent star formation — it is composed of detritus left over from the formation of a newborn star.

Just like fog curling around a street lamp, reflection nebulae like NGC 1999 only shine because of the light from an embedded source. In the case of NGC 1999, this source is the aforementioned newborn star which is visible at the center of this image. Named V380 Orionis, this star is thought to be somewhere between 1 and 3 million years old. The most notable aspect of NGC 1999’s appearance, however, is the conspicuous hole in its center, which resembles an inky-black keyhole of cosmic proportions.

This image was created from archival Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFC2) observations that date from shortly after Servicing Mission 3A in 1999. At the time, astronomers believed that the dark patch in NGC 1999 was something called a Bok globule — a dense, cold cloud of gas, molecules, and cosmic dust that blots out background light. However, follow-up observations using a collection of telescopes including ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory revealed that the dark patch is actually an empty region of space. The origin of this unexplained rift in the heart of NGC 1999 remains unknown.

11 Comments on "Hubble Space Telescope Spies a Cosmic Keyhole"

  1. A funny shape in space. Who knew? Hardly science news.

  2. Ouch! Tough crowd!

  3. Rather reminds me of the net alien in Herbert’s Chapter House dune.

  4. Anthony C. Belfield | October 25, 2022 at 10:36 am | Reply

    The was left by the force of the star birth

  5. It looks like a Hand with a hole in it .

  6. Looks more like a cosmic pee hole

  7. It look like the key hole to something important guarded my big red glowing eyes in the darkness.. is this the light in the dark? Or is it out way out of a prison world? Are we being kept in or keeping things out???

  8. Definitely should have proof read before I left my comment:/

  9. It’s shaped like a c*ck n balls, but that’s peradolia for ya!

  10. This proves electrical formation of stars and disproves accretion by gravity, which was disproved many years ago.

  11. Soooo…. For being 1350 light yrs away .. how does our technology give us this birds eye view!?? 👁

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