Featured Deep Sky Objects
T Tauri / Hind's Variable Nebula (NGC 1555)

Deep Sky Object Chart | Aldebaran / Hyades Cluster
| El Nath | Lambda Tauri | Crab Nebula | Pleiades
| NGC 1514 | NGC 1647 | NGC 1746

Most of the things you can see through a telescope don't change much from year to year; in fact, most looked the same a thousand years ago. So when astronomers found a gas cloud near the odd variable star T Tauri, they were amazed to see the cloud seem to change - a lot - in just a few years. In fact, the alterations suggested that the gases were rearranging themselves at nearly the speed of light! We now know better; the star, T Tauri, is shrouded in dark dust clouds, and these are indeed moving around, but the much larger nebula NGC 1555 is merely lit up by T Tauri - what we are seeing is a giant shadow show across a vast curtain of gases. As T Tauri's dust bubble writhes and shifts, different portions of the neighboring nebula are illuminated.

T Tauri is interesting in that its odd light variations - subtle changes, from magnitude 9 to 13 - betray a star in its infancy, recently formed from the dark dust in the area. The star averages a brilliance much like our sun, although at maximum it outshines good old Sol by a factor of five. Once, our sun looked much the same, and the radiation of T Tauri is working hard to send the obscuring gases away. When this happens, thousands of years from now, a new star will be unmasked as a galactic citizen, and the strange shadow show will end.

Home Lambda Tauri Crab Nebula