The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion's belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,340 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth.
The colors of this nebula show a wide palette from cyan color close to the center caused by H-beta and O-III emission, distinctive greenish tint to the nebula. The intense red surrounding hue is a result of the H-alpha recombination line radiation at a wavelength of 656.3 nm. Some blue-violet coloration is the reflected radiation from the massive O-class stars at the core of the nebula. Brownish color is caused by dense dust clouds within the emission areas.
The Nebula is part of a much larger nebula that is known as the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex extends throughout the constellation of Orion and includes M43 (top left), Barnard's Loop, the Horsehead Nebula, M78, and the Flame Nebula.
Stars are forming throughout the Orion Nebula, and due to this heat-intensive process the region is particularly prominent in the infrared.
Find a panoramic view of M42/43 made by the Hubble telescope here.
Image data: HaRGB (Ha 20x60s, LRGB 3x60s, 3x600s each) unguided, seeing 0.7-1 arc-sec
80cm f/7 Astrooptik Keller Hypergraph, FLI Proline 16803, Baader Filters, Prompt 7 CTIO Chile,
Acquisition: Philipp Keller, Konstantin Buchhold, Processing: Johannes Schedler
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