Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2001 January 30
Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion is a colourful place. Visible to the unaided eye, it appears as a small fuzzy patch in the constellation of Orion. But this image, a representative-colour composite of 81 near-infrared light images taken with VLT's ISAAC, shows the Orion Nebula to be a busy neighbourhood of young stars, hot gas, and dark dust. The power behind much of the Orion Nebula (M42) is the Trapezium - four of the brightest stars in the nebula. The eerie blue glow surrounding the bright stars pictured here is their own starlight reflected by nearby dust. Dark brown dust filaments cover much of the region. The whole Orion Nebula cloud complex, which includes the Horsehead Nebula, will slowly disperse over the next 100,000 years.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.