TONY & DAPHNE HALLAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY TONY & DAPHNE HALLAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Orion nebula. Optical image of the Orion nebula (M42, NGC 1976)) with other associated nebulae in the constellation Orion. North is at top. M42 is the large red nebula at lower centre. It is an emission nebula, emitting light as the hydrogen gas it contains is ionised by radiation from hot young stars within it. Above M42 is the smaller circular nebula M43, and a large band of dark dust is silhouetted against these nebulae. At upper centre is the blue reflection nebula NGC 1975-1977. This nebula reflects the light of nearby young stars. The whole area is a massive starbirth region around 1500 light years from Earth.
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