Orion Nebula Gets Up Close and Personal in New Hubble Video
It’s almost irresistible to stare out the widow of an airplane when you’re gliding atop the clouds here on Earth. But now thanks to the collective efforts of international astronomers, you can soar through the dazzling plumes of gas in the Orion Nebula.
The video seen above fuses images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope to create a 3D model of one of the most photographed objects in the cosmos. While the Orion Nebula might be 1,350 light years away, space enthusiasts can now get a feel for flying through space at lightspeed. Well, almost.
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The virtual tour beings with a wide shot of the Milky Way and then shoots off toward the nebula. The red, purple, and green hues that are seen as you approach Orion are a combination of optical and infrared light that both telescopes pick up on.
This multi-spectrum view gives you an idea of the sheer amount of gas found in the region of space. The nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across with a total mass of about 2,000 times that of our sun. This gaseous landscape is a stellar nursery where gas, dust, and matter clump together to form newborn stars.
As the video dives deeper into the Orion Nebula, you’ll begin seeing small, blue shimmers of light. Each of those little blue dots is a star that has been formed by the clumping of gas from the nebula.
The immense gravitational forces from these stars cut valleys and channels into the giant intergalactic gas cloud. That’s why the footage might look like you’re flying over a canyon the closer to Orion it gets.
Even though there might be countless images of the Orion Nebula for astronomers to pile through, creating models like this gives them a whole new look at the stellar breeding ground. Looking at this stellar hotbed from a different angle could help scientists unravel even more secrets about the formation of star and planetary systems.
Oh, and besides being an asset to astronomers, it gives everyone else hope for a future where we can actually soar through the stars.