EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Orion nebula. Optical image of the Orion nebula (M42; NGC 1976), which is 1500 light years away in the constellation Orion. Nebulae are huge clouds of interstellar gas and dust. This is an emission nebula, a region of starbirth. It glows red due to the ionisation of the hydrogen gas it contains by radiation from four hot young stars, the trapezium stars, at its core. M42's smaller neighbour M43 (NGC 1982) is seen at top left. Photographed by the Wide Field Imager (WFI) camera on the Max Planck Telescope at La Silla Observatory, Chile.
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