U.S. NAVAL OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY U.S. NAVAL OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Optical photograph of the Orion Nebula (also known as M42 & NGC 1976). The nebula is a great cloud of dust and gas which is lit up from inside by ultraviolet radiation from hot, recently born stars. The radiation causes the hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow a characteristic red colour. The Orion Nebula is located some 1600 light years from Earth & its fan-shaped cloud is some 15 light years across.
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