NGC 2024, or the Flame Nebula, is a large star-forming region that forms part of the Orion constellation and is located about 1,400 light-years away from Earth.
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In addition to the Flame Nebula, the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex houses other famous nebulae, including the Horsehead Nebula and the Orion Nebula. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) studied the Flame Nebula and looked for protoplanetary disks or “proplyds.“These disks are lots of gas and dust surrounding stars, which could eventually grow into a new solar system.
Hubble has confirmed four prop sounds in the fog and four potential prop sounds. However, these prop sounds are steadily worn away due to intense radiation from nearby stars. Consequently, these prop sounds can never form planets.
Hubble also identified three “bullets“in the nebula, which are small, dark clouds of dust illuminated by the background of light mists. Scientists believe that these spheres can form brown dwarfs, hot objects too massive to become planets, but not massive enough to become stars. They can also form other free-floating objects in the universe with the same mass as planets.
The Flame Nebula, NGC 2024, exists in the larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. ESO refers to the European Southern Observatory, while HST ACS refers to the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys.
Another image showing the Flame Nebula from Digitalized Sky Survey 2 comparing visible light emissions with infrared. The infrared view makes it possible to see many bright stars nearby looking through the clouds of dust.