Merope Nebula - Reflection Nebula in the Pleiades - NGC 1435

Reflection Nebula; CCD image thru 20 inch

Merope, the brightest star in the image above, is one of the "seven sisters" making up the classical group known as the Pleiades (see M-45). The Pleiades appear to be surrounded by intricate blue filaments of light. This nebulosity is the result of starlight reflecting off of minute grains of interstellar dust in the vicinity. The dust particles are inside a cloud of mostly hydrogen gas that the cluster seems to be plowing into. This is believed to be a random circumstance, and that the dust in the reflection nebula is not the remains of the gas cloud that M-45 formed from. Some of the brightest strands loop around Merope and are designated NGC 1435, and are also known as Tempel's Nebula.

George Normandin, KAS

February 23rd, 2009