Embracing Orion

Aug 26, 2013
Orion A. Credit: ESA/Herschel/ Ph. André, V. Könyves, N. Schneider (CEA Saclay, France) for the Gould Belt survey Key Programme

(Phys.org) —This new view of the Orion A star-formation cloud from ESA's Herschel space observatory shows the turbulent region of space that hugs the famous Orion Nebula.

The nebula lies about 1500 light years from Earth within the 'sword of Orion' – below the three main stars that form the belt of the Orion constellation.

In this view, the nebula corresponds to the brightest region in the centre of the image, where it is lit up by the Trapezium group of stars at its heart.

The scene is awash with turbulent star formation, the fierce of massive new born stars blasting away their surrounding cloudy cocoons, carving ethereal shapes into the gas and dust.

Wispy tendrils rise like flames away from some of the most intense regions of star formation, while pillars of denser material withstand the searing blaze for longer.

Great arms of gas and dust extend from the Orion Nebula to form a ring, while a spine of cooler material weaves up through the scene to a halo of cloudy material above.

Embedded within the red and yellow filaments are a handful of point-like sources: these are protostars, the seeds of new stars that will soon ignite and begin to flood their surrounds with .

The black regions to the top of the image and to the bottom right may seem like voids, but actually contain hints of much fainter emission that has not been emphasised in this image.

The red 'islands' of emission in the bottom right are also a subtle trick of image processing for they are connected to the main cloud by much fainter emission. The bright 'eyes' in the two most distinct clouds indicates that the tip of each pillar has already collapsed and is forming stars.

Explore further: POLARBEAR detects curls in the universe's oldest light

Related Stories

Orion's hidden fiery ribbon

May 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —This dramatic new image of cosmic clouds in the constellation of Orion reveals what seems to be a fiery ribbon in the sky. This orange glow represents faint light coming from grains of cold ...

Hunting high-mass stars with Herschel

Mar 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA's Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born.

Atacama Pathfinder Experiment: Setting the dark on fire

Jan 23, 2013

(Phys.org)—A new image from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile shows a beautiful view of clouds of cosmic dust in the region of Orion. While these dense interstellar clouds seem ...

WISE feels the heat from Orion's sword

Feb 05, 2013

(Phys.org)—The tangle of clouds and stars that lie in Orion's sword is showcased in a new, expansive view from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

An anarchic region of star formation

May 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —The Danish 1.54-meter telescope located at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile has captured a striking image of NGC 6559, an object that showcases the anarchy that reigns when stars form inside ...

The 'flame' burns bright in new WISE image

Jul 03, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the candle-like Flame nebula lighting up a cavern of dust. The Flame nebula is part of the Orion complex, a turbulent ...

Recommended for you

Big black holes can block new stars

1 hour ago

Massive black holes spewing out radio-frequency-emitting particles at near-light speed can block formation of new stars in aging galaxies, a study has found.

POLARBEAR seeks cosmic answers in microwave polarization

1 hour ago

An international team of physicists has measured a subtle characteristic in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation that will allow them to map the large-scale structure of the universe, ...

New radio telescope ready to probe

4 hours ago

Whirring back and forth on a turning turret, the white, 40-foot dish evokes the aura of movies such as "Golden Eye" or "Contact," but the University of Arizona team of scientists and engineers that commissioned ...

Exomoons Could Be Abundant Sources Of Habitability

Oct 20, 2014

With about 4,000 planet candidates from the Kepler Space Telescope data to analyze so far, astronomers are busy trying to figure out questions about habitability. What size planet could host life? How far ...

Partial solar eclipse over the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 23

Oct 17, 2014

People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, ...

User comments : 0