REV. RONALD ROYER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY REV. RONALD ROYER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Optical image of the Orion Nebula, the brightest and nearest HII region. Some 1500 light years away from Earth, 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 and gas, mainly hydrogen, which are ionised and 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.
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