Tag Archives: dust

What’s that eerie glow down the highway? A still from ‘Stranger Things’? No, it’s dust orbiting the sun. To wit:

At certain times of the year, a band of sun-reflecting dust from the inner Solar System appears prominently just after sunset — or just before sunrise — and is called zodiacal light. Although the origin of this dust is still being researched, a leading hypothesis holds that zodiacal dust originates mostly from faint Jupiter-family comets and slowly spirals into the Sun. Recent analysis of dust emitted by Comet 67P, visited by ESA’s roboticRosetta spacecraft, bolster this hypothesis. Pictured when climbing a road up to Teide National Park in the Canary Islands of Spain, a bright triangle of zodiacal light appeared in the distance soon after sunset. Captured on June 21, the scene includes bright Regulus, alpha star of Leo, standing above center toward the left. The Beehive Star Cluster (M44) can be spotted below center, closer to the horizon and also immersed in the zodiacal glow.

(ImageRuslan Merzlyakov (RMS Photography)


Behold: curious formations and bizarre textures visible in the vicinity of the Cone Nebula, 2,700 light years from Earth.

Well, this is how it would have been in 681BC, when – who can forget – an assassin brought the 24 year reign of Assyrian king Sennacherib to an untimely end (that’s what you get for sacking Babylon).

Anyhoo – what’s this? Some kind of interstellar dust cloud? To wit:

The unusual shapes originate from fine interstellar dust reacting in complex ways with the energetic light and hot gas being expelled by the young stars. The brightest star on the right of the featured picture is S Mon, while the region just below it has been nicknamed the Fox Fur Nebula for its color and structure. The blue glow directly surrounding S Mon results from reflection, where neighboring dust reflects light from the bright star. The red glow that encompasses the whole region results not only from dust reflection but also emission from hydrogen gas ionized by starlight. S Mon is part of a young open cluster of stars named NGC 2264, located about 2500 light years away toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). Even though it points right at S Mon, details of the origin of the mysterious geometric Cone Nebula, visible on the far left, remain a mystery.

(Image: Chilescope; Processing & Copyright: Utkarsh Mishra)


Behold: NGC 6302, also known as the ‘bug’ or ‘butterfly nebula’  – a vast planetary dust cloud with a dying central star 4,000 light years from Earth in the Scorpion Constellation. This enhancement is based on an especially sharp image recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. to wit:

Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot star’s dusty cosmic shroud.

(Pic: Robert Eder)