Robert L. Hurt
The (In)Visible Orion Nebula, 2006

Astrophotograph; Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes; digital multi-wavelength capture and rendering

Spitzer Science Center, Pasadena, California,

United States NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have often teamed up to expose the chaos that baby stars are creating 1,500 light-years away in the cosmic cloud called the Orion Nebula. Swirls of green in the Hubble image made from ultraviolet and visible light reveal hydrogen and sulfur gases that have been heated and ionized by intense ultraviolet radiation from young, massive stars. Meanwhile, Spitzer’s infrared view, which is rendered as orange and red, exposes carbon-rich molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the cloud. These representative colors allow us to see this region in a way that vastly expands the limits of our color vision.

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