NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2 February 2023: Reflection Nebulae near Orion's Sword

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning snapshot of reflection Nebulae NGC 1977, NGC 1975, and NGC 1973 located near Orion's Sword.

| Updated on: Feb 02 2023, 11:58 IST
NASA warns of 5 asteroids rushing towards Earth; biggest is a 210-foot monster
1/5 Asteroid 2023 BA4 - NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2023 BA4. The asteroid is expected to fly past Earth closely today, January 31, at a distance of 6.7 million kilometers. According to NASA, the asteroid is gigantic with a size 140 feet across. This space rock is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 28291 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2023 BQ2 - A relatively small asteroid with a size of 54 feet will fly past Earth by a very close margin today, January 31. The asteroid, named Asteroid 2023 BQ2, will make its closest approach with the planet at a distance of 2.1 million kilometers. The asteroid is travelling towards the planet at a blistering speed of 50122 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2023 AS1 – Another asteroid named 2023 AS1 will make its closest approach to Earth today, January 31, at a distance of 4.5 million kilometers. The asteroid, with a width of 78 feet, is travelling at a staggering speed of 22272 kilometers per hour towards the planet.  (Pixabay)
4/5 Asteroid 2023 BP6 - NASA has issued an alert against another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 BP6. According to NASA, it is the largest asteroid of the week with a width of nearly 210 feet. It is expected to fly past Earth closely tomorrow, February 1, at a distance of 2.6 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a speedy 35059 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2017 DU34 - The fifth asteroid which is set to make a close approach is named Asteroid 2017 DU34 is heading for Earth and is expected to pass by the planet closely on February 2. Asteroid 2017 DU34 is already on its way towards us travelling at a fearsome speed of 40160 kilometers per hour. The asteroid, with a width of 49 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 5.08 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
NASA nebula
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The Nebulae are located nearly 1500 light-years away from Earth, as per NASA. (NASA/Daniel Stern)

Space, the final frontier, is an endless expanse lying just beyond the Earth's atmosphere. But space is not empty. It is filled with countless stars, planets, asteroids and other celestial objects. It has been the topic of interest for hundreds of years and has intrigued humanity ever since it was discovered. Nebulas exist in the space between stars, known as the Interstellar space. But what is a Nebula? Well, a Nebula is a star forming region located in Interstellar space. It consists of gases, mainly hydrogen and helium. According to NASA, a Nebula can contain as few as ten stars or as many as millions of stars.

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a stunning snapshot of reflection nebulae NGC 1977, NGC 1975, and NGC 1973, known as region Sh2-279. It is located about 1500 light-years away in the Northmost part of the asterism known as the Orion's Sword. There's also a reflection nebula embedded in this region which is called the Running Man Nebula, according to NASA. The image was captured by Daniel Stern, NuSTAR Project Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

NASA's description of the picture

The 1970s are sometimes ignored by astronomers, like this beautiful grouping of reflection nebulae in Orion - NGC 1977, NGC 1975, and NGC 1973 - usually overlooked in favor of the substantial glow from the nearby stellar nursery better known as the Orion Nebula. Found along Orion's sword just north of the bright Orion Nebula complex, these reflection nebulae are also associated with Orion's giant molecular cloud about 1,500 light-years away, but are dominated by the characteristic blue color of interstellar dust reflecting light from hot young stars.

In this sharp color image, a portion of the Orion Nebula appears along the bottom border with the cluster of reflection nebulae at the picture center. NGC 1977 stretches across the field just below center, separated from NGC 1973 (above right) and NGC 1975 (above left) by dark regions laced with faint red emission from hydrogen atoms. Taken together, the dark regions suggest the region's popular moniker, the Running Man Nebula. At the estimated distance of Orion's dusty molecular cloud this running man would be about 15 light-years across.

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First Published Date: 02 Feb, 11:57 IST