M42: Inside the Orion Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Reinhold Wittich
“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).”
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
Gorgeous image of the Orion Nebula taken by the CFHT!
"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."
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. "