The Great Nebula in Orion – M42

Few astro-images excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, this is the brightest nebula seen from the northern skies. The nebula is a star factory as the glowing gas surrounding the hot young stars is slowly but surely collapsing to make hot new stars. It’s only 1,350 light-years away. The Nebula is about is estimated to be 24 light years across and it has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun.

From a scientist’s standpoint, the Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula’s energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view – providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution.

The nebula is visible with the naked eye even from areas affected by some light pollution. It is seen as the middle “star” in the “sword” of Orion, which are the three stars located south of Orion’s Belt. The star appears fuzzy to sharp-eyed observers, and the nebulosity is obvious through binoculars or a small telescope. Having said that, it is dim enough that the cones of our eyes cannot see it and only rods can, which means that we can only see it gray colors.

I took this images with relatively less number of images because of its high brightness. Total of 4.3 hours (11 images of 10 minutes each for luminance and 5 each images of RGB for 10 minutes as well).

The nebula can look like a downward looking bird with a well defined beak and flowing feathers.
M42-1701-web

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