The great nebula in Orion is considered to be the finest example of a diffuse nebula in the sky. This nebula is one of the regions of space where star formation is presently underway. The total mass is sufficient to form about 10,000 stars like our Sun. The nebula is located 1270 light-years away, and has a diameter of about 25 light years. The distance to the nebula was measured more accurately in 2007 with parallex techniques using the Very Long Baseline Array. The light of the nebula is largely fluorescense, resulting from strong ultraviolet radiation from a nearby star known as Theta Orionis. The bright central region of the nebula known as the Huyghenian Region invariably appears completely burned out in photographs, but reveals great detail if viewed visually through a telescope. The actual density of the gas in the nebula is less dense than a millionth of the density of gas in a laboratory vacuum here on Earth.
The blue nebula on the left is NGC 1977, also known as the Running Man Nebula. This nebula is a reflection nebula. The gas is not being irradiated sufficiently to cause it to fluoresce. Instead, it is visible due to the starlight that is being reflected by it.
M42 was included in the first Messier catalog published in 1769. It is located in a region of the sky that includes a vast nebula cloud.
This is a 10 minute unguided exposure taken with a Takahashi Epsilon 250 telescope. The film was unhypered Kodak PJM film. An Olympus OM-1 camera was used at prime focus.
M42 (NGC 1976).
RA:05h 35m 14.9s Dec:-05d 27' 20"
September 27, 1998 at 0850 U.T.
Photo by Sid Leach
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