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Orion in the Infrared
Ssc2006 16a1

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Megeath (University of Toledo, Ohio)

Observation • August 14th, 2006 • ssc2006-16a1

ssc2006-16a1

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion nebula, our closest massive star-making factory, 1,450 light-years from Earth. The nebula is close enough to appear to the naked eye as a fuzzy star in the sword of the popular hunter constellation.

The nebula itself is located on the lower half of the image, surrounded by a ring of dust. It formed in a cold cloud of gas and dust and contains about 1,000 young stars. These stars illuminate the cloud, creating the beautiful nebulosity, or swirls of material, seen here in infrared.

This image shows infrared light captured by Spitzer's infrared array camera. Light with wavelengths of 8 and 5.8 microns (red and orange) comes mainly from dust that has been heated by starlight. Light of 4.5 microns (green) shows hot gas and dust; and light of 3.6 microns (blue) is from starlight.

Above the Orion nebula, where the massive stars have not yet ejected much of the obscuring dust, the infrared view penetrates the dark lanes of dust, revealing bright swirling clouds and numerous developing stars that have shot out jets of gas (green). This is because infrared light can travel through dust.The infrared image shows light captured by Spitzer's infrared array camera. Light with wavelengths of 8 and 5.8 microns (red and orange) comes mainly from dust that has been heated by starlight. Light of 4.5 microns (green) shows hot gas and dust; and light of 3.6 microns (blue) is from starlight.

About the Object

Name
Orion NebulaMessier 42M42NGC 1976
Type
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Distance
1,450 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 4.5 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 5.8 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC

Astrometrics

Position (J2000)
RA =5h 35m 16.3s
Dec = -6° 0' 51.2"
Field of View
0.8 x 1.4 degrees
Orientation
North is up