Credit: Bill Snyder
Multiple exposures are made to collect enough light for an image that would otherwise not be evident to the eye.
Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
The region lies near the southern end of Taurus located on the border of the constellations of Taurus and Perseus more than 400 light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
Into the Sword of Orion
Distance: 1500 Light Years
Image Copyright Robert Gendler 2006
The region of Orion and Monoceros has unique importance as one of the great regions of active star formation in our galaxy.
Its proximity and favorable position in the sky have made this one of the most extensively studied regions in the Milky Way.
Directly in front of M42 is a small grouping of hot O and B type stars known as the trapezium which shine between 5th and 8th magnitude. This grouping represents the 4 brightest members of an extended cluster of several thousand young stars many of which lie unseen within the opaque gas and dust. The bright trapezium grouping represents the cluster core where stars are packed so tight they exceed the stellar concentration of our suns vicinity some 20,000 times. Stars within the trapezium are separated by only 0.12 light years whereas our sun’s nearest neighbor is 4 light years away.
This Nasa image captured on April 12, shows baby stars creating chaos 1,500 light-years away in the cosmic cloud of the Orion Nebula. Four massive stars make up the bright yellow area in the center of this false-color image for the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Millions of young stars shine brightly in this enormous stellar nursery at the heart of the Tarantula Nebula.
The Hubble space telescope captured this amazing panorama, which reveals intricate details about the expanse known as 30 Doradus. Located about 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud — a small galaxy orbiting our Milky Way — 30 Doradus is one of the largest and most prolific star-forming regions in our galactic neck of the woods.
The region is so huge that, if it were as close to us as the Orion Nebula (the nearest stellar nursery to Earth, about 1,300 light-years away), it would be the size of 60 full moons in the sky and glow so brightly that it could cast shadows on the ground.
A nebula (from Latin: “cloud”; pl. nebulae or nebulæ, with ligature or nebulas) is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases. Originally, nebula was a general name for any extended astronomical object, including galaxies beyond the Milky Way (some examples of the older usage survive; for example, the Andromeda Galaxy was referred to as the Andromeda Nebula before galaxies were discovered by Edwin Hubble). Nebulae are often star-forming regions, such as in the Eagle Nebula. This nebula is depicted in one of NASA’s most famous images, the “Pillars of Creation”. In these regions the formations of gas, dust, and other materials “clump” together to form larger masses, which attract further matter, and eventually will become massive enough to form stars. The remaining materials are then believed to form planets, and other planetary system objects.
Slip the Surly Bonds by Marie Green
Deep sky objects and Nebula oil paintings
Photograph by J.P. Metsavainio, Your Shot
A collection of nebulae—interstellar clouds of dust and gas—create a question mark in the sky in a new picture taken from a small private observatory in Finland and submitted to National Geographic’s Your Shot.
At top sits the emission nebula known as Cederblad 214, which is part of a larger star-forming complex called NGC 7822. The dot at bottom is a smaller nebula called Sharpless 170. The entire piece of punctuation spans about 40 light-years in the constellation Cepheus.
Image by Greg Parker, Your Shot
The nebula known as IC 2169 appears as a pink cloud dotted with stars in a true-color picture taken from New Forest Observatory in the United Kingdom on March 10.
The cosmic cloud of dust and gas is a turbulent star-forming region in the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn, a relatively faint grouping of stars that is best seen during winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Wizard Nebula
This image of the open star cluster NGC 7380, also known as the Wizard Nebula, is a mosaic of images from the WISE mission spanning an area on the sky of about 5 times the size of the full moon. NGC 7380 is located in the constellation Cepheus about 7,000 light-years from Earth within the Milky Way Galaxy. The star cluster is embedded in a nebula, which spans some 110 light-years. The stars of NGC 7380 have emerged from this star-forming region in the last 5 million years or so, making it a relatively young cluster.
WISE, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, scans the entire sky in infrared light, picking up the glow of hundreds of millions of objects and producing millions of images. The mission is designed to uncover objects never seen before, including the coolest stars, the universe’s most luminous galaxies and some of the darkest near-Earth asteroids and comets. Its vast catalogs will help answer fundamental questions about the origins of planets, stars and galaxies.
WISE joins two other infrared missions in space — NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission. WISE is different from these missions in that it will survey the entire sky. It is designed to cast a wide net to catch all sorts of unseen cosmic treasures, including rare oddities. All four infrared detectors aboard WISE were used to make this image.
NGC 7380 was discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1787. Her brother, William Herschel, discovered infrared light in 1800.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Cone Nebula (NGC 2264): Star-Forming Pillar of Gas and Dust
About This Image
Radiation from hot stars off the top of the picture illuminates and erodes this giant, gaseous pillar. Additional ultraviolet radiation causes the gas to glow, giving the pillar its red halo of light.
M8 Lagoon Nebula
A portion of the Lagoon nebula imaged by Argentinean astronomers Julia Arias and Rodolfo Barbá using the Gemini South telescope with the Gemini Multiple-Object Spectrograph.
The Seagull Nebula spreads its wings across 100 light-years
This beautiful image is an up-close look at one of the universe’s best examples of pareidolia: the Seagull Nebula, also known as the Parrot Nebula or Eagle Nebula, depending on your ornithological preference. Point is, this is one gargantuan bird.
Just like the Man in the Moon, the face on Mars, and, for some reason, the entire state of California, this collection of dust and gas just so happens, when viewed from Earth, to look like something familiar. In this case, I’d argue the bird’s head is more crucial to the illusion than its wings, which are honestly pretty faint and ghostly in this image. But that head, which just happens to have a black spot right where I think an eye should be, not to mention a gap right where a mouth could go? Throw in what looks like the outline of a rather sharp beak, and consider me convinced.
Remarkably, the image up top of the Seagull Nebula — or the Parrot Nebula, as my overactive imagination prefers to see it — isn’t even the most convincing image. For my money, I’d say that honor goes to the one down here on the left, which was taken in 2009 and also happens to include the tinier Duck Nebula down on the bottom right corner. Truly, the cosmos is for the birds. For yet another look at this particular cosmic illusion, you can also go here.