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Finding Cosmic Favorites in Hubble’s View

13 Apr 2020, 17:38 UTC
Finding Cosmic Favorites in Hubble’s View
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I’m celebrating the 30th anniversary of Hubble’s launch to orbit by looking at some favorites that the telescope has studied. Of all the objects it has observed (literally billions of things in the sky), one of my favorites is the Orion Nebula. It’s in the constellation Orion (which is setting earlier in the April night skies). The nebula is really part of a larger collection of clouds of gas and dust called the “Orion Molecular Complex”. What we see is the most easily visible to the naked eye. And, of course, the nebula has been observed from the ground from many other facilities, too. For example, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has looked at it in radio frequencies to study other structures.

Hubble’s Orion

So, most of us have seen the Orion Nebula through Hubble’s eye. It’s got four very bright stars at its center, called “the Trapezium”. There are many other newborn stars in the region. The nebula also has proplyds. That’s short for “protoplanetary disks”. Those are young stars with cocoons of dust around them, and in which planets are likely forming. All this splendor is only 1,500 light-years away from us. That’s very close by, ...

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