The Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977)

 
The Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977)

The Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977, Sh 2-279 and sometimes also called the Ghost Nebula) is a diffuse reflection nebula, found along the sword of Orion just north of the bright M42 (the Great Orion Nebula), some 1,460 light-years away in the constellation Orion.

It consists of NGC 1973 (above right), NGC 1975 (above NGC 1973) and Herbig-Haro 45, an area of protostar formation (just below the center), divided by darker lanes of red glowing ionized hydrogen gas which resembles a man or ghost.

It is dominated by a number of bright young stars whose light reflects off gas in the immediate vicinity and thus leading to reflection nebulosity. These stars – one of them the bright star HD 37018 (42 Ori) – are between 2 and 4 million years old.

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