The image of the Orion Nebula unveiled by researchers lives up to its reputation. A simply wonderful image that nicely tells the story of this sublime cloud of gas and dust.
The Orion Nebula is difficult to see with the naked eye. She hides in the constellation that takes its name from the great hunter of mythology. But it is probably one of the most beautiful clusters of gas and dust in the Milky Way. And it is a new breathtaking image of this nebula that the researchers reveal to us today. An image constructed from data collected in the infrared — a wavelength inaccessible to our eyes — by three instruments: the Spitzer Space Telescope (Nasa), the Wide-field infrared survey explorer (WISE, NASA) and the Herschel Space Telescope (ESA). The opportunity for astronomers to tell us how this marvelous nebula was formed.
First, the two huge cavities that take shape in this image. They were carved out by giant stars. True stellar monsters that can emit up to a million times more light than our Sun. They are not visible on the image which focuses on the infrared. But it was their radiance that shattered the specks of dust and their winds that swept away those that remained.
And if these cavities glow blue, it’s a sign that the surrounding dust is still warm. Unlike the one that sails on the edge of these regions. It appears a slightly cooler green. While all regions in red are just plain freezing. With temperatures that do not exceed -260°C. Quite naturally located on the outskirts of the nebula. Far from the active regions where stars form.
These regions appear on the image as bright dots within orange filaments. This is where the dust condenses. The process could well, eventually, give birth to new giant stars. Who would probably come to redraw the so familiar face of the magnificent and mysterious Orion Nebula.