“The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immenseinterstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image in assigned colors highlighted by emission in oxygen and hydrogen, wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula contains many stellar nurseries. These nurseries contain much hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula spans about 40light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun.”
“Here tens of thousands of new stars have formed within the past ten million years or so - a very short span of time in astronomical terms. For comparison: our own Sun is now 4,600 million years old and has not yet reached half-age. Reduced to a human time-scale, star formation in Orion would have been going on for just one month as compared to the Sun’s 40 years.
Just below Orion’s belt, the hilt of his sword holds a great jewel in the sky, the beautiful Orion Nebula. Bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, a small telescope or even binoculars show the nebula to be a few tens of light-years’ wide complex of gas and dust, illuminated by several massive and hot stars at its core, the famous Trapezium stars.
However, the heart of this nebula also conceals a secret from the casual observer. There are in fact about one thousand very young stars about one million years old within the so-called Trapezium Cluster, crowded into a space less than the distance between the Sun and its nearest neighbour stars. The cluster is very hard to observe in visible light, but is clearly seen in the above spectacular image of this area (ESO PR 03a/01), obtained in December 1999 by Mark McCaughrean (ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal (Chile).”
“Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, the nebula’s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloudonly 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula’s energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view - providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution. This detailed image of the Orion Nebula is the sharpest ever, constructed using data from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla 2.2 meter telescope. The mosaic contains a billion pixels at full resolution and reveals about 3,000 stars.”
Nebular clouds are thought to be most likely environment for synthesizing and promoting the evolution of molecules needed for the origin of life. Giant gas nebulae such as Orion are storehouses of sugars that form ribose — the backbone of RNA. With a universe full of sugar, it’s possible that early RNA worlds were generated and are evolving in their own unique ways throughout the observable universe. RNA coding is what gave primitive cell structures the catalyst they needed to become life.
Orion’s Rainbow of Infrared Light
“This new view of the Orion Nebula highlights fledgling stars hidden in the gas and clouds. It shows infrared observations taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel mission, in which NASA plays an important role.
Stars form as clumps of this gas and dust collapses, creating warm globs of material fed by an encircling disk. These dusty envelopes glow brightest at longer wavelengths, appearing as red dots in this image. In several hundred thousand years, some of the forming stars will accrete enough material to trigger nuclear fusion at their cores and then blaze into stardom.
Spitzer is designed to see shorter infrared wavelengths than Herschel. By combining their observations, astronomers get a more complete picture of star formation. The colors in this image relate to the different wavelengths of light, and to the temperature of material, mostly dust, in this region of Orion. Data from Spitzer show warmer objects in blue, with progressively cooler dust appearing green and red in the Herschel datasets. The more evolved, hotter embryonic stars thus appear in blue.
Infrared data at wavelengths of 8.0 and 24 microns from Spitzer are rendered in blue. Herschel data with wavelengths of 70 and 160 microns are represented in green and red, respectively.”
This image was released on Feb. 29, 2012.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/IRAM
Source: Milky way scientists
“This gorgeous image of the Orion Nebula (M42) was obtained using the MegaCam camera on the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CHFT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA.”
Source: Milky way scientists
Credit: Jean-Charles Cuillandre, CFHT -http:// www.cfht.hawaii.edu/ HawaiianStarlight/ and Giovanni Anselmi, Coelum Astronomia -http://www.coelum.com/
Dust of the Orion Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Nicolás Villegas
” What surrounds a hotbed of star formation? In the case of the Orion Nebula — dust. The entire Orion field, located about 1600 light years away, is inundated with intricate and picturesque filaments of dust. Opaque to visible light, dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by a strong outer wind of particles. The Trapezium and other forming star clusters are embedded in the nebula. The intricate filaments of dust surrounding M42 and M43 appear brown in the above image, while central glowing gas is highlighted in red. Over the next few million years much of Orion’s dust will be slowly destroyed by the very stars now being formed, or dispersed into the Galaxy. “