The Orion Nebula is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest… This wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42).
In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever produced, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is offering an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. This turbulent star-formation region is one of astronomy’s most dramatic and photogenic celestial objects.
This crisp image reveals a tapestry of star formation, from the dense pillars of gas and dust that may be the homes of fledgling stars to the hot, young, massive stars that have emerged from their gas-and-dust cocoons and are shaping the nebula with their powerful ultraviolet light.
The new picture reveals large-scale structures never seen before, according to C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, USA “Only with the Hubble Space Telescope can we begin to understand them,” O’Dell said.
In a mosaic containing a billion pixels, Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) uncovered 3,000 stars of various sizes. Some of them have never been spied in visible light. Some are merely 1/100 the brightness of stars seen previously in the nebula.
Among the stars Hubble spotted are possible young brown dwarfs, the first time these objects have been seen in the Orion Nebula in visible light. Brown dwarfs are so-called “failed stars.” These cool objects are too small to be ordinary stars because they cannot sustain nuclear fusion in their cores the way our Sun does.
The Hubble Space Telescope also spied for the first time a small population of possible binary brown dwarfs — two brown dwarfs orbiting each other. Comparing the characteristics of newborn stars and brown dwarfs in their natal environment provides unique information about how they form.
Credit: esa/hubble, rob gendler and akira fujii.