Reflection Nebula IC426. IC 426 is a reflection nebula in the constellation of Orion. Reflection nebulae often look a ghostly bluish color because they reflect scattered light from bright stars nearby (the red light is absorbed by dust in the nebula). Mintaka, the westernmost star in the belt of Orion, is thought to be the star illuminating IC 426. credit line: T. A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF
Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered that filaments of star-forming gas near the Orion Nebula may be brimming with pebble-size particles -- planetary building blocks 100 to 1,000 times larger than the dust grains typically found around protostars. If confirmed, these dense ribbons of rocky material may well represent a new, mid-size class of interstellar particles that could help jump-start planet formation.
Our Place in the Galactic Neighborhood Just Got an Upgrade. The sun’s newly classified neighborhood — the Local Arm, as shown in this picture — is more prominent than previously supposed. Credit: Robert Hurt, IPAC; Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF June 2013