The Constellation of Orion has fascinated mankind for thousands of years.
Nearly all cultures around the globe have myths and folklore connected to this fascinating constellation visible in the night sky.
The Egyptians, for example, claimed that their god Osiris came down to Earth from Orion, and some scholars even believe the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids mimicking the stars in the sky.
As I have written in previous articles about Orion and the mysterious connection between the cosmos and our civilization, based on the constellations and position of stars, the ancients built fascinating monuments, calendars, and ‘observatories’ that allowed them to track the position of constellations and heavenly bodies across the sky.
After all many cultures claimed that from these constellations ‘creator-Gods’ came down to Earth.
But in addition to the fact that Orion was extremely important in ancient times causing fascination among early astronomers, the constellation continues to baffle modern scientists who continuously explore the cosmos.
A mystery in deep space
Located some 1,500 light years from Earth, south to the Constellation of Orion lies a mysterious structure (it’s actually a Nebula) called NGC 1999.
It may not seem much at first, but the truth is that it is one of the greatest cosmic mysterious discovered by modern astronomers.
NGC 1999 is actually a bright nebula, and despite the fact that it may look like many other nebulae out there, this one has one characteristic that no other nebulae have: its empty.
This is kind of a mystery to astronomers.
To try and explain the black patch in the cosmos, scientists first assumed that the black patch in the sky was caused due to an extremely dense cloud of gas and dust, which prevented light from passing through, giving off the impression that the region of the sky was black, without stars.
These types of cosmic structures are called dark nebulas or absorption nebulas. They are a type of interstellar cloud that is so dense, it obscures all ought from objects located behind it.
To try and verify whether NGC 1999 was, in fact, a Dark Nebula, scientists pointed the Herschel telescope towards it in order to observe it.
The Herschel telescope, unlike other telescopes, has the ability to penetrate dense clouds of gas like those found in dark nebulae.
But observations revealed an unsettling fact. When the Herschel telescope observed NGC 1999 it found it to be truly empty.
This is strange, according to what we know about the universe. But it could mean two things. Either NGC 1999’s cloud material is so dense, we simply don’t have the means to peer through it. Or, NGC 1999 represents an unexplained phenomenon in outer space.
As observations by Herschel revealed ‘nothingness’, follow-up studies were performed using the submillimeter bolometer cameras mounted on the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment radio telescope and the Mayall (Kitt Peak) and Magellan telescopes.
These follow-up studies deepened the mystery.
Scientists concluded that the mysterious ‘patch of nothingness’ is not black because of the dense material inside it, but because it truly is empty space.
This means that NGC 1999 represents one of the rarest cosmic mystery’s scientists have discovered to date.
However, despite the fact that NGC 1999 remains unexplained, scientists theorize that the patch of empty space could be caused by extremely powerful jets of hot gas originating from young stars located in the vicinity, which have helped create the massive hole in space.
Others theorize that the patch of black sky was caused by extremely powerful radiation coming from nearby stars.