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By the Light of a Thousand Stars:

This is from the Spitzer website. The story on the site mentions "troves of possible solar systems" in the constellation Orion, and this is true but I am bringing these images to you purely on an aesthetic level.

The Orion Nebula is a very well known nebula that lies within the sword of the constellation Orion. This nebula is one of the few that is visible with the unaided eye. This region is rich with dust and gas and a plethora of new stars. The glow of the dust and gas in the nebula come from several very large and bright stars - the most famous of which are the Trapezium, the four stars that make up the heart of this nebula.

The Orion Nebula The Orion Nebula in Infrared Orion Nebula Opticl and Infrared Overlay

The image on the left is the nebula in optical wavelengths (from a telescope on Earth). The center image is an infrared image from the Spitzer Space Telescope. The image on the right is an overlay I did using PhotoShop of both the optical and infrared images.

The infrared image shows the expanse of the cooler dust that would otherwise be missing in the optical. In addition, thousands of very young stars are visible. It is these young stars that are responsible for the wonderful appearance of the cooler dust in the middle image.

An interesting note: the infrared image shows some areas of green; this is the result of higher velocity gas emanating from the young stars that are interacting with the surrounding dust cloud.

For more detail on the story behind the image, visit the Spitzer website - otherwise, just enjoy the images. I know I will!

Credit: Spitzer: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ T. Megeath (University of Toledo); Visible: NOAO/AURA/NSF/A. Block/R. Steinberg


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