The Orion Nebula in False Color


This false color image of the Orion Nebula was generated using visible light and infrared data from two of the instruments onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a segment of the sky about 0.002° wide. That works out to around 3.4 light-years at the nebula which is 1,500 light-years away.

Image Credit: Nasa / ESA / STScI

Infrared Orion


orion_spitzerR600hThe Orion Nebula is a stellar nursery 1,500 light-years from here. This false-color infrared view is about 40 light-years across and was assembled using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Looking at the nebula in visible light shows many newly-formed stars. This infrared image also shows the nebula’s many protostars still in the process of formation. They show up in the red areas of the image. One of the red spots along the dark dusty filament to the left is and odd protostar cataloged as HOPS 68. It wasrecently found to have crystals of the silicate mineral olivine within its protostellar envelope.

Image Credit: NASA

Stellar Explosions in Orion


Stellar explosions are usually associated with supernovae, the spectacular deaths of stars. New ALMA observations of the Orion Nebula provide insights into explosions at the other end of the stellar life cycle, star birth. This image shows the remains of a 500-year-old explosion from the birth of a group of massive stars; star formation can be a violent and explosive process too.

The colors in the ALMA data represent the relative Doppler shifting of the millimetre-wavelength light emitted by carbon monoxide gas. Blue data represents gas approaching at the highest speeds; the red data is from gas moving toward us more slowly.

The millimetre wave data is superimposed over optical and near-infrared images from the Gemini South and the ESO Very Large Telescope. The famous Trapezium Cluster of hot young stars appears towards the bottom of this image. The ALMA data only covers the central portion of the picture.

Image Credit: ESO

The Orion Nebula in False Color


This false color image of the Orion Nebula was generated using visible light and infrared data from two of the instruments onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a segment of the sky about 0.002° wide. That works out to around 3.4 light-years at the nebula which is 1,500 light-years away.

Image Credit: Nasa / ESA / STScI

LL Orionis


LL OrionisThis close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds in the Orion Nebula shows the young star LL Orionis interacting with the nebula’s main flow. LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own Sun, and as its the fast stellar wind runs into slower moving gas, a shock front, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water, forms. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori’s cosmic bow shock. It’s roughly half a light-year across. The slower gas is flowing away from the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula’s hot central star cluster located off the upper left corner of the picture.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

The Orion Nebula


Orion NebulaThe Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye even in areas affected by minor light pollution. It is seen as the middle “star” in the sword of Orion, the three stars located below Orion’s Belt. The “star” appears fuzzy to sharp-eyed observers, and its nebulosity is obvious through binoculars or a small telescope.

Image Credit: NASA

Spitzer’s Orion


orion_spitzerR600hThe Orion Nebula is a stellar nursery 1,500 light-years from here. This false-color infrared view is about 40 light-years across and was assembled using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Looking at the nebula in visible light shows many newly-formed stars. This infrared image also shows the nebula’s many protostars still in the process of formation. They show up in the red areas of the image. One of the red spots along the dark dusty filament to the left is and odd protostar cataloged as HOPS 68. It wasrecently found to have crystals of the silicate mineral olivine within its protostellar envelope.

Image Credit: NASA

The Orion Nebula in Infrared


Orion nebula 800-600The Orion nebula is featured in this image from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The constellation Orion is prominent in the night sky from December through April. The nebula (aka Messier 42 or M42) is in Orion’s sword which hangs from his famous belt of three stars. The star cluster embedded in the nebula appears to be a single fuzzy star to the naked eye.

The Maya of Mesoamerica envisioned the lower portion of Orion, what we call his belt and feet, as being the hearthstones of creation, similar to the triangular three-stone hearth at the center of traditional Maya homes. The Orion nebula, lying at the center of the triangle, was seen by the Maya as the cosmic fire of creation surrounded by smoke. That turns out to be an apt metaphor. The nebula is an enormous cloud of dust and gas where new stars are being born. It is one of the closest nurseries of star formation to the Earth and, therefore, provides astronomers with their best view of stellar formation.

This picture spans more than six times the width of the full moon, covering a region nearly 100 light-years across. The green stuff surrounding the nebula is interstellar dust. Color in this image represents specific infrared wavelengths. Blue represents light emitted at around 3.4 µm wavelength, and cyan represents 4.6 µm, both of which are generated mostly by hot stars. Relatively cooler objects, such as the dust of the nebulae, appear green and red. Green represents 12 µm light, and red represents 22 µm light.

Image Credit: NASA