Image Credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo

Mere words do not suffice to explain the pure awe I feel in my gut when I look at this image, captured by Rogelio Bernal Andreo. As you can see, quite a few things are going on in this celestial star-forming region, which is located some 1,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter).

Contained within this image (just right of the center) is the Great Orion Nebula, one of the most famous stellar nurseries in our galaxy (and it's also the closest large star-forming region from Earth). Located just above it is the Lambda Orionis Nebula (the huge reddish colored cloud, which hangs just above Orion's shoulders). Just in the center of this area is Lambda Orionis, the massive, blue-white star responsible for ionizing the surrounding material. Next, we have the just as famous Horsehead Nebula (located just left from the Orion Nebula).

Close-by are the stars that comprise Orion's belt and the tendrils of ionized hydrogen that shapes the arc of Bernard's Loop. The loop itself is absolutely HUGE -- extending more than 300 light-years in diameter ( or about 2 quadrillion miles [2 quadrillion km]!). You can also see the Witch Head Nebula, which is pictured on the bottom edge of the nebular cloud, right next to Rigel (just to name the main segments).

Overall, this image was made combining 32 separate images. A high-res version is located here and contains a staggering 4000 x 2600 pixels.


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