Webb Telescope captures the most beautiful thing in the night sky in a stunning new edition

It’s one of the most amazing spots with the naked eye in the night sky – and it’s now been photographed by James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The Orion Nebula – also known as M42 – is a stellar nursery, the home of newborn stars. It’s the closest region to us in space and perhaps, just maybe, where our star, the Sun, formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

A scattered cloud of gas and dust about 1,300 light-years away, this bright nebula is part of the “Sword of Orion” hanging from Orion’s belt.

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Pictures published Today it is something beautifully complex, but very simple – space is heated by starlight.

The images here are composites that use JWST’s NIRCam instrument filters to isolate different wavelengths of reflected light from ionized gas, hydrocarbons, molecular gas, dust and scattered starlight.

In the main image above, you can see Orion Bar, a dense ridge of gas and dust illuminated by massive, hot young stars from the nearby Trapezium Cluster, which just came out of the shot.

A region of space blasted off by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from young, massive stars — or, more simply, heated by starlight — is what astronomers call the photo-disintegration region (PDR).

PDRs get a lot of attention because they are the best place to find clues about how stars and planets form.

In the main image shown above, it is possible to see four amazing cosmic landscapes:

  • Young star in its cocoon (top, right): Disks of gas and dust around a young star called HST-10 may be planets.
  • Filaments (bottom, right): Zigzag filaments rich in hydrocarbon molecules and molecular hydrogen fill most of the picture.
  • Orion’s Theta2 (θ2 Orionis A (center): A multi-star system whose light illuminates the dust behind it.
  • Small star in a sphere (center, left): Gravitationally unstable clouds of gas and dust collapse into slowly growing embryos before they become shiny nuclear fusion reactors.

Pictures come from Image breakup regions of all Early Science Release Team (PDRs4All ERS)Researchers using the most advanced human telescopes to study these hot ionized environments.

In addition to comparing it, above, with earlier images of the region taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, Orion Bar was captured last week by the same PDRs4All team using the WM Keck Observatory on the island of Hawaii.

Here is that image from Keck, below, again comparing Hubble’s efforts:

Emily Habart, associate professor at the Astrophysics Spatial Institute, University of Paris-Saclay and lead author of paper In this study. “These regions are important because they allow us to understand how young stars affect the cloud of gas and dust in which they were born, particularly the locations where stars form, such as the Sun.”

The image above (right side) helped the team plan the JWST images you see here.

As a bonus, the PDRs4All ERS team has also published this incredibly beautiful image of the northern region of the Orion Nebula that once again shows its amazing filaments:

You can see the Orion Nebula with your own eyes now if you get up an hour before dawn and look east. It is in the constellation Orion, the “hunter”.

It appears as a misty speck of diffused light and is located next to Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka – the three stars of Orion’s Belt, between the ruddy star Betelgeuse and the blue star Rigel. Although you can see it with the naked eye, the Orion Nebula is best seen through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.