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Merope showing IC 349

Merope showing IC 349

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The small and usually hidden reflection nebula IC 349 under Merope is seen in this specially proccessed image. It's proximity to Merope makes it difficult to image.

In 1890, American astronomer E. E. Barnard, observing visually with the Lick Observatory 36-inch telescope in California, discovered the exceptionally bright nebulosity adjacent to the bright Pleiades star Merope. It is now cataloged as IC 349, or "Barnard's Merope Nebula." IC 349 is so bright because it lies extremely close to Merope -- only about 3,500 times the separation of the Earth from the Sun, or about 0.06 light-year -- and thus is strongly illuminated by the star's light.

The Hubble Space Telescope image of this nebula can be seen here.

September 18, 2007