M42: The Orion Nebula

Click on image for larger version.

The most famous of the nebulae. Galileo missed this object entirely, but William Herschel had the eerie foresight to call it "the chaotic material of future suns."

It's a star forming region, all right, one of the closest at a mere 1600 lightyears. There is enough material here for 10,000 stars like the sun. This image is of the bright central region, an irregular cloud about six lightyears across. The four stars in the center (the Trapezium) have recently formed and provide the energy to light up the nebula.

You can find this object in the Sword of Orion, just under the three famous belt stars. Binoculars are enough. Please click HERE to see a film image of this nebula. There is also an Hydrogen Alpha image of this region as well. Finally, you can find a wide field image of this region as well.


16in RC Optical Systems telescope operating at f/8.
Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

R G B color production was used to create this image.

Red = 12 minutes binned 1x1
Green = 12 minutes binned 1x1
Blue = 12 minutes binned 1x1

  • One iteration of L-R deconvolution (sharpening) algorithm using CCDsharp was applied to the luminance image.
  • Created a synthetic luminance from the RGB data.
  • Minimum credit line: Jim Rada/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

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    Updated: 12/07/2002