The Orion Nebula: A Hubble Image Tour

By NASA

The Orion Nebula is a turbulent star-forming region that is one of astronomy's most dramatic and photogenic celestial objects. Take a tour of this scientific laboratory for star birth from the view of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Orion Nebula (2001-12-11/2005-04-30) by Hubble Space TelescopeNASA

The Orion Nebula

This billion-pixel mosaic captures an unprecedented look at the great Orion Nebula. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image. Some of them were never seen before in visible light. 

The Orion Nebula is a cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. The energetic young stars transform their place of birth by spewing jets of hot gas, unleashing supersonic shock waves, and pouring forth stellar winds.

The energy and stellar winds of four massive stars carve out a plunging cavity in the region called the Trapezium. The flood of ultraviolet light disrupts the development of nearby smaller stars.

A young, massive star (center) illuminates this small region, called M43. Like an Orion Nebula in miniature, this star is hollowing out its own cavity in the landscape of gas and dust.

Dark, dense pillars of dust and gas hang from the nebula's outer layers, resisting erosion from the intense ultraviolet light of Orion's biggest stars. The pillars always point toward the stars that cause their erosion.

These pillars point to the massive stars in the Trapezium region.

This glowing region reveals arcs and bubbles formed by stellar winds — streams of charged particles ejected by stars.

These features form when a stellar wind carves into the gas and dust. The stars' ionizing radiation causes them to glow.

Bright, arc-shaped shock waves called "bow shocks" appear when stellar wind collides with the surrounding gas.

Some of the faintest red objects in this image are brown dwarfs, cool objects too small to sustain nuclear fusion in their cores. Brown dwarfs are sometimes called "failed stars."

Planetary systems like our own form from disks of gas and dust around stars. "Protoplanetary disks" like the one in the center of this view could someday give rise to planets.

Flight Through the Orion Nebula in Visible and Infrared Light (2018-01-11) by NASA/ESA/STScINASA

Journey through this famous star-forming region with this fly-through visualization based on observations made by Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Orion Nebula (2001-12-11/2005-04-30) by Hubble Space TelescopeNASA

The Orion Nebula is a perfect laboratory to study how stars are born because it is a cosmically close 1,500 light-years away. Hubble's observations will provide scientists an extraordinary opportunity to study star formation for years to come.

Credits: Story

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

Video Credit: NASA, ESA, and F. Summers, G. Bacon, Z. Levay, J. DePasquale, L. Hustak, L. Frattare, M. Robberto, M. Gennaro (STScI), R. Hurt (Caltech/IPAC), M. Kornmesser (ESA), A. Fujii

Acknowledgement: R. Gendler

Music: “Dvorak – Serenade for Strings Op22 in E Major larghetto” performed by The Advent Chamber Orchestra, CC BY-SA

NASA Hubble Space Telescope

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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