Orion Nebula - new image from Hubble & Spitzer

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    NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have teamed up to expose the chaos that baby stars are creating 1,500 light years away in a cosmic cloud called the Orion nebula.

    This striking infrared and visible-light composite indicates that four monstrously massive stars at the center of the cloud may be the main culprits in the familiar Orion constellation. The stars are collectively called the "Trapezium." Their community can be identified as the yellow smudge near the center of the image.

    Swirls of green in Hubble's ultraviolet and visible-light view reveal hydrogen and sulfur gas that have been heated and ionized by intense ultraviolet radiation from the Trapezium's stars. Meanwhile, Spitzer's infrared view exposes carbon-rich molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the cloud. These organic molecules have been illuminated by the Trapezium's stars, and are shown in the composite as wisps of red and orange. On Earth, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found on burnt toast and in automobile exhaust.

    Together, the telescopes expose the stars in Orion as a rainbow of dots sprinkled throughout the image. Orange-yellow dots revealed by Spitzer are actually infant stars deeply embedded in a cocoon of dust and gas. Hubble showed less embedded stars as specks of green, and foreground stars as blue spots.

    Stellar winds from clusters of newborn stars scattered throughout the cloud etched all of the well-defined ridges and cavities in Orion. The large cavity near the right of the image was most likely carved by winds from the Trapezium's stars.

    Located 1,500 light-years away from Earth, the Orion nebula is the brightest spot in the sword of the Orion, or the "Hunter" constellation. The cosmic cloud is also our closest massive star-formation factory, and astronomers believe it contains more than 1,000 young stars.

    The Orion constellation is a familiar sight in the fall and winter night sky in the northern hemisphere. The nebula is invisible to the unaided eye, but can be resolved with binoculars or small telescopes.

    This image is a false color composite where light detected at wavelengths of 0.43, 0.50, and 0.53 microns is blue. Light at wavelengths of 0.6, 0.65, and 0.91 microns is green. Light at 3.6 microns is orange, and 8.0 microns is red.

    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

    [Note (30 July, 2007): Last week there was a Yahoo! News article that included a link to this photo. It shot my views up from about 1,000 views to over 14,000 views in one day!!!!]

    maesk, Ѕelkie, Amazing Z, and 171 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 20 more comments

    1. helen geraghty 78 months ago | reply

      this is absolutely stunning :o)

    2. Shoes on Wires 78 months ago | reply

      I can only echo the sentiments - a beautiful and thought-provoking shot. I notice you have added this image to the CreativeCommons pool under an Attribution license. I take it you own the original copyright to this image? I'd like to use this image in a book I'm working on, and will need to know how you would like to be credited. Thanks!

    3. Mr. Physics 78 months ago | reply

      I believe the current Creative Commons license allows you to copy and share this image freely. I only put any license on it to release this image up from my default settings to allow for free downloads.

      Credit shold be given thus:
      Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

    4. Art Gardenfunckle [deleted] 76 months ago | reply

      Amazing! Are we alone? Don't think so.

    5. sonia.macak 71 months ago | reply

      OMG this is beautiful .. I had to download it to my laptop .. thanks for sharing

    6. Venus Oak 70 months ago | reply

      so beautiful !!!!!!

    7. Eddi van W. 68 months ago | reply

      Hallo, ich bin der Administrator der Gruppe Creative Commons- Free Pictures, und wir würden uns freuen, wenn Du dies zu unserer Gruppe hinzufügen würdest.

    8. DrumChannel.com 67 months ago | reply


      Just wanted to let you know we love your image! We love it so much, in fact, that we’d like to borrow it to accompany a news article on Drum Channel. Of course, we will credit you and provide a link to the original image. Here’s a link to the article:


      If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t think twice about getting in touch with us at: contactdc(at)drumchannel(dot)com

      And please, take a minute to look around our site. We think it’s pretty awesome.


      Drum Channel

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    9. griffithjune49 61 months ago | reply

      Please Come & Share this Awesome Work in.....
      ~KEEPER of the STARS~ Discussion Topic!
      A NEW Thread in Heaven *Times Ticking* Group!
      It would be a Welcome Addition!! Thanks!

    10. KAZVorpal 50 months ago | reply

      It should always be noted that the Hubble's beautiful images are faked:

      The colors are all artificial, added afterward.

      I wouldn't mind that, but for the fraud aspect: They consciously neglect to tell people that these pictures are colorized. That famous pic of the Eagle Nebula they used as a PR tool for years...fake.

      How do I know this? I worked at the Space Telescope Science Institute back when that Eagle Nebula pic was the big thing.

    11. biotron 50 months ago | reply

      but it is noted above, clearly, multiple times in the original description. anyone with a basic ability to read will have determined that these sorts of image are always false colour composites. granted, those who just experience them out of context may well believe colour like that is "real", but they wouldn't have to work at the Space Telescope Science Institute to discover much about the process of composing these images.

      "fake" and "fraud" are strong words - especially when imagery like this helps highlight certain components, meaningfully so that we can learn more, if we are interested. by the same token, is this "fake"?

      would you be happier if all false colour composite space imagery had a watermark over it so people are immediately aware of the fact?

    12. Mr. Physics 50 months ago | reply

      KAZVorpal: I think it is misleading to say this (and other similar images) are "faked". Without the colors, the details are truely a photograph of what can be seen in that part of space.

      The colors help us to "see" more information. The false coloring is nearly always spelled out in most scientific publications and presentations of space photos, as it was here above:

      "This image is a false color composite where light detected at wavelengths of 0.43, 0.50, and 0.53 microns is blue. Light at wavelengths of 0.6, 0.65, and 0.91 microns is green. Light at 3.6 microns is orange, and 8.0 microns is red. "

    13. i n i m i n i 42 months ago | reply

      mindblowingly stunning, and my favorite star constellation

    14. Caméraboy 37 months ago | reply

      ∞ Wonderful !

    15. kentsmith9 37 months ago | reply

      Marc, I saw your post in the Flickr Hacks threads and came to see your image and the story. I love the false color in these images. Without the color it would look like a black field with white dots I assume. LOL

      I too had an image go viral one day due to someone posting a link to it in mid January. The highest count it saw in one day was nearly 71,000. Since that time it has passed 200,000 and continues to get views from places like StumbleUpon and Tumblr where people post images that link back to the owners.

      Here is the link to the image and another link to the story in case you are interested in reading the history.
      Merging Oceans - (200,000+ Views)
      Merging Oceans

      Most Views on One Photo in One Day- 70,847 - Merging Oceans
      71,000 Views in one day

    16. Sonia G Medeiros 36 months ago | reply

      So beautiful! It was perfect for my Mother's Day blog post yesterday.

    17. homesteadbound 30 months ago | reply

      I used this beautiful picture in an article I wrote:
      Thanks for making such a great photo available.

    18. homesteadbound 29 months ago | reply

      I used this wonderful picture in another article I wrote about nebula:
      Great picture!

    19. Din mahidin 27 months ago | reply

      Twikle twinkle little star
      How i wonder what you are

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