March 2, 2000: Just weeks after NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a nebula in the constellation Orion. The Heritage astronomers, in collaboration with scientists in Texas and Ireland, used Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) to obtain the color image.
This region is actually a dark cloud called a Bok globule, a cold cloud of gas, molecules, and cosmic dust which is so dense that it blocks all of the light behind it. Astronomers believe that new stars may be forming inside Bok globules, through the contraction of the dust and molecular gas. To the left of this cloud is the young, bright star that is illuminating the nebula. This star is cataloged as V380 Orionis, and its white color is due to its high surface temperature of about 10,000 degrees Celsius (nearly twice that of our own Sun). Its mass is estimated to be 3.5 times that of the Sun. The star is so young that it is still surrounded by a cloud of material left over from its formation, here seen as the reflection nebula.