39.6 MB (5.0 MB compressed)
4243 x 3263 pixels
35.8 x 27.7 cm ⏐ 14.1 x 10.9 in (300dpi)
ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL OBSERVATORY, EDINBURGH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Optical image of the Orion nebula (M42 and M43). It is classified as an HII region and lies at a distance of about 1500 light years from Earth. It is a cloud of dust and interstellar gas, mainly hydrogen, which is lit up by the cluster of stars called Trapezium (not visible), which is found in the bright region at centre. These are very hot stars which ionise the gas with their ultraviolet radiation. The Orion nebula is the nearest HII region and it contains many infrared sources in which star formation takes place.
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