Window-Curtain Structure of the Orion Nebula

Stsci_1990-26a_1024

stsci_1990-26a October 4th, 1990

Credit: NASA, ESA, and STScI

Recent images made with the Wide Field/Planetary Camera on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the structure of a thin sheet of gas located at the edge of the famous "Great Nebula" in Orion, an estimated 1500 light years from Earth. Astronomers, who compare the appearance of this sheet of gas with that of a rippled window curtain, report that this emission traces the boundary between the hot, diffuse interior of the nebula and an adjacent dense cool cloud. The sheet is seen in light emitted by atoms of gaseous sulfur (shown in red in the photograph). This emission is strongest under conditions which are intermediate between those in the interior of nebula and those in the dense cloud. The sulfur emission is seen to break into filamentary and clumpy structures with sizes down to the limit of what the telescope can show. In contrast, emission from gaseous oxygen and hydrogen (shown as blue and green, respectively) is favored in the interior of the nebula itself, and is distributed much more smoothly in the image. The Orion Nebula is a "stellar nursery" - a region where new stars are forming out of interstellar gas. The emission from the nebula is powered by the intense ultraviolet light from a cluster of particularly hot and luminous stars. The sulfur emission seen in the photograph is coming from the region where the light from these stars is "boiling off" material from the face of the dense cloud. This is the very cloud from which the hot stars formed, and is known to harbor additional ongoing star formation. Astronomers say that this is a good example of a case where, despite the spherical aberration that has hobbled many of the scientific programs which the Hubble Space Telescope was expected to carry out, the telescope can still be used to obtain scientifically interesting data with clarity far exceeding that normally possible from the ground. The Wide Field/Planetary Camera was designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology.

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/1990/news-1990-26

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://hubblesite.org/copyright/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Orion Nebula M42 NGC 1976
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation

Distance

Universescale1
1,400 light years
Stsci_1990-26a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 5h 35m 7.5s
DEC = -5° 21’ 40.0”
Orientation
North is 33.3° CW
Field of View
2.8 x 2.6 arcminutes
Constellation
Orion

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Hubble (WFPC) Optical (OIII) 502.0 nm
Green Hubble (WFPC) Optical (Ha) 656.0 nm
Red Hubble (WFPC) Optical (SII) 673.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Green
Red
Stsci_1990-26a_1280
×
ID
1990-26a
Subject Category
B.4.1.2  
Subject Name
Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976
Credits
NASA, ESA, and STScI
Release Date
1990-10-04T00:00:00
Lightyears
1,400
Redshift
1,400
Reference Url
https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/1990/news-1990-26
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Light years
Facility
Hubble, Hubble, Hubble
Instrument
WFPC, WFPC, WFPC
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
OIII, Ha, SII
Central Wavelength
502, 656, 673
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
83.78140387996, -5.36111629279
Reference Dimension
2748.00, 2563.00
Reference Pixel
1965.85732483789, 651.68198389870
Scale
-0.00001691755, 0.00001691755
Rotation
-33.27595769690
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
World Coordinate System resolved using PinpointWCS 0.9.2 revision 218+ by the Chandra X-ray Center FITS X FITS Y EPO X EPO Y 533.17 697.41 1493.41 2115.66 192.95 599.27 1654.63 1549.98 83.49 521.34 1781.91 1368.96 341.38 113.17 2461.80 1793.88 606.69 571.44 1703.21 2236.71 Center Pixel Coordinates: 1374.00 83.79568713998 1281.50 -5.35769543109
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-H-p9026a-f-2748x2563.tif
Resource URL
https://mast.stsci.edu/api/latest/Download/file?uri=mast:OPO/product/STSCI-H-p9026a-f-2748x2563.tif
Related Resources
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/1990/26
Metadata Date
2022-07-06T00:00:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
1,400 light years