Picture of the Day: The Orion Nebula


Captured using La Silla Observatory's MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope outfitted with a Wide Field Imager camera, this image of the Orion Nebula is actually a composite of five different exposures. With each exposure taken for 52 minutes through a different filter, the nebula -- you've probably seen a less radiant version of it numerous times as it's clearly visible to the naked eye, sitting just below Orion's famous belt -- seems to pulse with different colors. Red shows glowing hydrogen gas and ultraviolet light has been tinted purple.

Located about 1,350 light years from us here on Earth, the Orion Nebula is a huge structure. To give you a sense of its size, note that our familiar moon would fit comfortably inside of this image.

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Image: European Southern Observatory.