ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / AATB / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / AATB / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Optical image of the Orion Nebula, the brightest & nearest HII region. Some 1600 light years away, the Orion Nebula consists of M42 (NGC 1976) and M43 (NGC 1982), which form the great central nebula, and NGC 1977, the nebula at top centre. M42 and M43 are clouds of dust & gas, mainly hydrogen, which are ionised & lit up by the Trapezium Cluster of hot, young stars situated in the brightest region at the centre of the frame. At bottom centre is NGC 1980, a small open star cluster. The photo was taken with the UK Schmidt Telescope in Australia.
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