The Great Nebula In Orion & Others
One of the showpieces of the sky, the Great Nebula in Orion is visible to the unaided eye under a clear, dark sky. The map shows the constellation of Orion and the location of the nebula in the sword labeled M42.
1,300 light-years away and 24 light-years wide, the Orion Nebula is the most photographed and studied object in the night sky. There are several reasons why this is true. First, it’s the brightest star-forming region in the sky and holds many new stars as well as stars yet unborn. This cosmic nursery produces extreme turbulence and shock waves in the nebula accounting for the variety of interesting detail in the object.
The primary element in the nebula is hydrogen. The image seen here was made primarily in hydrogen with some oxygen and sulfur added to account for color modifications. Photographing in hydrogen accounts for much of the detail visible here and is a standard practice by astronomers to study specific detail in celestial objects.
The entire region surrounding the Orion constellation is filled with molecular hydrogen and contains many other smaller and interesting nebulas.