Orion Nebula, Nursery of Infant Stars
Newborn stars in the Orion Nebula wrapped in dusty blankets.
Credit: NASA/ESA and L. Ricci (ESO)
Ever looked through the window of a hospital nursery full of newborn babies? You may have noticed that the babies are wrapped in warm fleecy blankets.
Ever looked through the window of a nursery full of newborn stars? In the constellation of Orion, the hazy area in the sword of Orion is an opening into a huge cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born, called the Orion Nebula.
The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed that many of the infant stars in the Orion nursery are wrapped in blankets of warm gas and dust.
But these blankets aren’t there to keep the stars warm. These blankets of gas and dust can, in a few million years, develop into planets that orbit around the stars.
Our star, the Sun, was born in a nursery similar to the Orion Nebula about five billion years ago. The infant Sun, too, was likely wrapped in a dusty blanket that transformed into the planets, including Earth, which now orbit our Sun.
If it's clear outside, you can see the Orion Nebula tonight. (The diagram above shows you where to look in the Orion constellation.) To see it through a telescope, click here to locate your nearest astronomy club.
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(Photo Credit: Dr. J. Sizemore, Astronomical Society of East Texas)
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