Starlight is slowly destroying this wandering cloud of gas and dust seen in the Pleiades star cluster. The star Merope is just out of the frame on the left of this picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. During the past 100,000 years, part of the cloud has moved so close to Merope that the star’s light is having a very dramatic effect. The pressure of the light is repelling the dust in the reflection nebula, and the smaller dust particles are repelled more quickly. As a result, the cloud has become stratified, seeming to point toward Merope. The closest particles are the most massive and the least affected by the radiation pressure. This nebula will eventually be blown apart by starlight.
Image Credit: NASA