CELESTIAL IMAGE CO. / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CELESTIAL IMAGE CO. / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Orion nebula. Optical image of the Orion nebula (M42 & M43). North is at top. The brightest areas have been overexposed to reveal the extensive fine traces in the nebula's outskirts. The Orion nebula is a huge cloud of gas which glows due to the ionisation of the hydrogen it contains by ultraviolet radiation from hot young stars within it. These stars form a cluster known as the Trapezium, contained within the lower bright patch at centre right (M42). The Orion nebula is the nearest large emission nebula (or HII region) to Earth, lying 1500 light years away in the constellation Orion.
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