A NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a region of the Great Nebula in Orion.
This is one of the nearest regions of very recent star formation (300,000 years ago). The nebula is a giant gas cloud illuminated by the brightest of the young hot stars at the top of the picture. Many of the fainter young stars are surrounded by disks of dust and gas that are slightly more than twice the diameter of the Solar System.
The great plume of gas in the lower left in this picture is the result of the ejection of material from a recently formed star.
The brightest portions are "hills" on the surface of the nebula, and the long bright bar is where Earth observers look along a long "wall" on a gaseous surface. The diagonal length of the image is 1.6 light-years. Red light depicts emission in Nitrogen; green is Hydrogen; and blue is Oxygen.
The Orion Nebula star-birth region is 1,500 light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter.
The image was taken on 29 December 1993 with the HST's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.
Credit: C.R. O'Dell/Rice University NASA