The portrait offers a dizzying look down what is actually a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases. The fluorescing tube is pointed nearly directly at Earth, so it looks more like a bubble than a cylinder. A forest of thousands of...
Go old-school trendy! This vintage-inspired T-shirt graphic covers the front and back as shown, and also has stripes on the sleeves for that classic seventies/eighties style. How do we know? Because we were inspired to create this design after browsing our...
Appreciate the magnificence of the universe on this Messier 42 (Orion Nebula) backpack that uses an actual photo of this wonder direct from NASA.
Image credits: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team
The sharpest view of the Orion Nebula ever obtained (from NASA)
Created using 520 different Hubble exposures taken in multiple wavelengths of light, this mosaic contains over one billion pixels. Hubble imaged most of the nebula, but ground-based images were used to fill in the gaps in its observations.
The orange color in the image can be attributed to hydrogen, green represents oxygen, and the red represents both sulfur and observations made in infrared light.
Believed to be the cosmic fire of creation by the Maya of Mesoamerica, M42 blazes brightly in the constellation Orion.
Popularly called the Orion Nebula, this stellar nursery has been known to many different cultures throughout human history. The nebula is only 1,500 light-years away, making it the closest large star-forming region to Earth and giving it a relatively bright apparent magnitude of 4.
Because of its brightness and prominent location just below Orion’s belt, M42 can be spotted with the naked eye, while offering an excellent peek at stellar birth for those with telescopes. It is best observed during January.
The Mayan culture’s likening of the Orion Nebula to a cosmic fire of creation is very apt. The nebula is an enormous cloud of dust and gas where vast numbers of new stars are being forged.
Its bright, central region is the home of four massive, young stars that shape the nebula. The four hefty stars are called the Trapezium because they are arranged in a trapezoidal pattern. Ultraviolet light unleashed by these stars is carving a cavity in the nebula and disrupting the growth of hundreds of smaller stars.
Orion, the mythical celestial hunter
One of the best known of all Northern Hemisphere constellations, Orion can easily be identified by its shape: a giant quadrangle of stars slashed by a belt of three evenly-spaced bright stars.
Orion’s sword hangs from the three stars forming the belt. A small telescope or even a pair of binoculars will reveal that the center of the sword is enveloped in a haze; higher magniflication shows that this ‘‘star’’ is actually a small cluster of stars. The haze surrounding them is a large nebula of ionized hydrogen gas, glowing from the ultraviolet radiation emitted by hot stars within the cluster.
By the process of fluorescence, the excited gas in the Orion Nebula produces light with a distinctive ‘‘signature” revealing the temperature and density of the cloud.
In 1618, a Swiss Jesuit named Cysatus provided the first recorded mention of the Orion Nebula. Without suspecting its true nature, Cysatus used the nebula as a standard of brightness for comparison with a comet observed in that year. - Adaped from an an article originally published in the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Arizona) Dec 26, 1976
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