Hubble's sharpest image of the Orion Nebula with proplyd highlights

The gorgeous Orion Nebula is home to tens of what could be fledgling planetary systems. In this image, six of these modest "smudges" with big potential are highlighted (from top down): 132-1832, 206-446, 180-331, 106-417, 231-838 and 181-825.

Within the awe-inspiring, gaseous folds of Orion, researchers have identified two different types of discs around young and forming stars: those that lie close to the brightest star in the cluster (Theta 1 Orionis C) and those farther away from it. This bright star heats up the gas in the nearby discs, causing them to shine brightly. The discs that are farther away do not receive enough of the energetic radiation from the star to set the gas ablaze; thus, they can only be detected as a dark silhouette against the background of the bright nebula, as the dust that surrounds these discs absorbs background visible light. In these silhouetted discs, astronomers are better able to study the properties of the dust grains that are thought to bind together and possibly form planets like our own.

The brighter discs are indicated by a glowing cusp in the excited material and facing the bright star, but which we see at a random orientation within the nebula, so some appear edge on, and others face on, for instance. Other interesting features enhance the look of these captivating objects, such as emerging jets of matter and shock waves. The dramatic shock waves are formed when the stellar wind from the nearby massive star collides with the gas in the nebula, sculpting boomerang shapes or arrows or even, in the case of 181-825, a space jellyfish!

Credit:

NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA), the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team and L. Ricci (ESO)

About the Image

Id:heic0917ab
Type:Observation
Release date:14 December 2009, 16:00
Related releases:heic0917
Size:15503 x 10176 px

About the Object

Name:Messier 42, Orion Nebula
Type:• Milky Way : Star : Circumstellar Material : Disk : Protoplanetary
• Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
• X - Nebulae Images/Videos
Distance:1400 light years

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
435 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
H-alpha
658 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Infrared
I
775 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Infrared
Z
850 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

Notes: The base image is from the WFI instrument aboard the ESO/MPG 2.2-metre telescope.


Image Formats

Large JPEG
99.1 MB
Screensize JPEG
160.8 KB

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