New NASA, ESA image tells tale of death and dust in Orion Nebula

A new image combining previously released data from three of NASA and ESA‘s (European Space Agency’s) infrared space telescopes shows the Orion Nebula being transformed by the massive stars that live and die within it.

Located in the constellation Orion, which appears like a hunter raising a club and shield at an unseen target, the Orion Nebula is 1,500 light-years away from us, making it the nearest star-forming region to Earth.

The two gigantic caverns that dominate the cloud in this region were carved out by giant stars (not visible in this image) that can release up to a million times more light than our Sun.

This infrared image of the Orion Nebula shows dust but no stars. The blue light indicates warm dust heated by unseen massive stars. Observed in infrared light (not visible to the human eye), the views were provided by NASA‘s retired Spitzer Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), both of which are managed by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The red and green light shows data from the ESA‘s now-retired Herschel Space Telescope that captured wavelengths of light in the far-infrared and microwave ranges. The dust that appears green is slightly cooler while red indicates cold dust that reaches temperatures of about minus 440 Fahrenheit (minus 260 Celsius).

The orange filaments in between the two hollow regions are where dust condenses and forms new stars. Over time, these filaments may produce new giant stars that will once again reshape the region, according to NASA.

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