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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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Orion Nebula, Beth Biegun

Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula (M42, NGC 1976) is an emission nebula containing young hot stars. It is among the youngest open clusters known, and there are still new stars forming within its clouds. Because it can be seen easily with the naked eye provided fair conditions, the Orion Nebula was first discovered by multiple people independent of each other. Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresec (1580-1637), a French lawyer, first observed the nebula in late 1610; In 1611, the Jesuit astronomer Johann Baptist Cystus (1588-1659) also saw the nebula, comparing it to a comet. The Orion Nebula is approximately 1,500 light years away. It a can easily be found on the middle star of the sword hanging from Orion's belt in the constellation Orion.

As stated above, the Orion Nebula is an emission nebula, which is a large cloud of hydrogen gas where new stars are formed. We know that it is made of hydrogen gas because of its distinct red-pink glow. It is the brightest star-forming and brightest diffuse nebula in the sky. In the picture above, instead of focusing on the individual stars making up the bright center of the picture, I wanted to focus on the swirling clouds of red and pink gas that surround the nebula itself, and have magnified these swirls by saturating the center of the nebula.This gas has been pushed out from the nebula by the stars forming within, giving astronomers a clear view of what is happening within the nebula. In the picture, there are two colorful areas, one in the top left corner, the other in the center and spread into the lower right corner. In actuality, these are both part of the same hydrogen cloud, and appear to be separated due to the curtains of dust that are between us and the nebula.These curtains of dust appear black in the picture, and are responsible for the amazing texture of the nebula. Looking in the center of the image, the large black cloud that stretches in front of the glowing Trapezium, the four bright stars within the gas cloud, is actually a cloud of dust! The linear size of the Orion Nebula is approximately 10.40 light years.

References:
Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "Messier 42" <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m042.html>.

The Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team . "Orion Nebula: The Hubble View ." Astronomy Picture of the Day. <http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap060119.html>

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:35:19
Declination (J2000) -05:22:12
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R)
Exposure time per filter 20x3 seconds in RV, 20x6 seconds in B
Date observed

November 05, 2007