Best of OTOP - Diffuse Nebulae

M42: The Orion Nebula Wide

The most famous of all nebulae. Galileo missed this object entirely, but William Herschel had the eerie foresight to call it "the chaotic material of future suns."

It's a star forming region all right, one of the closest at a mere 1600 lightyears. There is enough material here for 10,000 stars like the sun. The bright central region is an irregular cloud about six lightyears across. Four stars in the center (the Trapezium) have recently formed and provide the energy to light up the nebula.

You can find this object in the Sword of Orion, just under the three famous belt stars. Binoculars are enough.

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Last Updated: 07-Jun-2014

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About This Image

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76mm Televue (with TeleVue field flattener)

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

LRGB color production was used to create this image.

Color data courtesy of Bill Uminski.

Luminance = Hα (90 minutes) + RGB (synthetic) binned 1x1

Red = 24 minutes binned 1x1

Green = 24 minutes binned 1x1

Blue = 24 minutes binned 1x1

Minimum credit line: Ryan Steinberg and Family/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF