Credit & Copyright: Dale J. Martin (Massapoag Pond Obs.)

This stunning picture is a portrait of the great Orion Nebula, the famous Horsehead Nebula, and the bright Flame Nebula. Making up part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, all of these objects are about 1,300 light-years from Earth. In case the name didn’t give it away, these objects can be seen in the Constellation Orion and are found within the asterisms of Orion’s Sword and Orion’s Belt.

The Orion Nebula is the large, bright nebula in the upper right hand corner of this image. This nebula is the closest star-forming region to Earth and offers us an amazing glimpse to the start of a Stars life. The very bright star near the bottom left hand corner is Alnitak, the most eastwardly star of Orion’s Belt. To the stars right is the Horsehead nebula – named for obvious reasons. This is a dark nebula silhouetted against the sky. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, a fantastically dynamic region comprised of a mix of dark and bright nebulous material.

You can see a larger image here.

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