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Stars Adorn Orion's Sword
Ssc2011 06a

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

Observation • May 26th, 2011 • ssc2011-06a


This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows what lies near the sword of the constellation Orion -- an active stellar nursery containing thousands of young stars and developing protostars. Many will turn out like our sun. Some are even more massive. These massive stars light up the Orion nebula, which is seen here as the bright region near the center of the image.

To the north of the Orion nebula is a dark filamentary cloud of cold dust and gas, over 5 light-years in length, containing ruby red protostars that jewel the hilt of Orion's sword. These are the newest generation of stars in this stellar nursery, and include the protostar HOPS 68, where Spitzer spotted tiny green crystals in a surrounding cloud of gas.

About the Object

Orion NebulaMessier 42M42NGC 1976
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Nebula > Appearance > Dark
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Protostar
1,450 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 4.5 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 24.0 µm Spitzer MIPS


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