M42 Orion Nebula

M42 the Orion Nebula or the Great Orion Nebula is one of the most studied objects in the night sky.  M42 is a naked eye object that is 1,344 light years away and is the middle star of Orion’s Sword.

M42 is the nearest region of massive star formation to Earth, and as such is known as a stellar nursery.  Studies of this nebula have revealed much about how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of dust and gas. 

Astronomers have directly observed Brown Dwarfs, Protoplanetary Disks, turbulent and intense motions of the gas, and the photo-ionising effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula.  There are also supersonic “bullets” of gas piercing the hydrogen clouds the Orion Nebula, each bullet is ten times the diameter of Pluto’s orbit and tipped with Iron atoms glowing bright blue. 

They were probably formed one thousand years ago from an unknown violent event.  M42 contains a very young open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium due the asterism of its primary four stars.  Two of these are binary systems and on a clear night with good “seeing” can be split giving a total of six stars.  The stars of the Trapezium are still very young.  The Trapezium may be a component of the much larger Orion Nebula Cluster, an association of about 2,000 stars within a diameter of 20 light years.  Two million years ago this cluster may have been the home of the runaway stars AE Aurigae, 53 Arietis and Mu Columbae, which are moving from the nebula at velocities exceeding 100 kilometres per second.

Below is a video by Deep Sky Videos