Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

This image of the Orion Nebula (also known as M42) was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and is one of the most detailed images ever produced of this region. Hubble used all of its instruments over the course of 105 orbits to capture this stunning image. At full resolution, it contains nearly a billion pixels.

The Orion Nebula is located about 1300 light-years from Earth and is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky. It is visible to the naked eye (even in areas with minor light pollution) and can be seen just under Orion’s Belt as the second ‘star’ in Orion’s sword. If you have really good eye sight, the ‘star’ will appear fuzzy, but, with the aid of binoculars or a telescope, Orion’s nebula appearance becomes clear.

The Orion Nebula is a stellar nursery and offers us an unprecedented view of the process that drives the formation of these young stars, both because it is so close and because its hot, young stars have blown away much of the gas that normally obscures them from view.

See a high resolution version here

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