DR IAN GATLEY, NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR IAN GATLEY, NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Orion Nebula. False-colour infrared (IR) view of the Orion Nebula and its companions. The Orion Nebula itself (also known as M42 or NGC 1976) is the larger bright area. Above and to the left of this is M43, its companion nebula. The reddish area near the top of the frame is the small Orion Molecular Cloud, OMC-2. M42 is the nearest emission nebula to Earth, with a distance of about 500 parsecs (1600 light years). The colours in the image represent IR wavelengths: 1.2 micron (blue), 1.6 micron (green) and 2.2 micron (red).
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