Diagram of 3D positions of stars in Orion

Diagram of 3D positions of stars in Orion

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Diagram showing the 3D distribution of the stars, as well as the Orion nebula (M42), in the constellation of Orion. We see the constellation as just a 2D projection on the night sky, and it is easy to imagine that all the stars are at the same distance from us. But, as this schematic shows, this is not true. The closest star, Bellatrix, is around 240 light-years away, while the furthest one is Meissa, at 1300 light-years, about the same distance as the Orion nebula. Indeed, the closest stars are actually nearer to the Sun than they are to the most distant members of the constellation.

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Keywords: alnilam, alnitak, bellatrix, betelgeuse, distance, horizontal, landscape, meissa, mintaka, nebula, orion, orion nebula, rigel, saiph, schematic, space, stars

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