Hubble’s Variable Nebula

NGC 2261 is an odd nebula is named for Edwin Hubble, who studied it early last century. It’s appearance can change over short periods of time. Hubble’s Variable Nebula is a reflection nebula made of gas and fine dust moving out from the star R Monocerotis. The faint nebula is about one light-year across and lies about 2500 light-years away in the constellation of Monocerotis (the Unicorn). The leading explanation for the nebula’s rapid changes suggests that dense knots of opaque dust is passing close to R Mon and cast moving shadows onto the reflecting dust seen in the rest of the nebula.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA
Data: Mark Clampin (GSFC)
Processing & License: Judy Schmidt, CC BY 2.0

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