Spitzer’s Orion


orion_spitzerThe Orion Nebula is an immense stellar nursery around 1,500 light-years away. This infrared image from the Spitzer Space Telescope was constructed from data intended to monitor the brightness of the nebula’s young stars, many still surrounded by dusty, planet-forming disks. It covers an area roughly 40 light-years across. Orion’s young stars are only about 1 million years old. (Our Sun’s been around for 4.6 billion years.) The hottest stars are found in the Trapezium Cluster, the brightest cluster near picture center. Spitzer’s liquid helium coolant for it’s most sensitive detectors ran out in May, 2009, so this false color view is from two channels that still remain sensitive to infrared light at warmer operating temperatures.

Image Credit—NASA

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