The Herschel view of the heart of Orion


Image: ESA/Herschel/ Ph. André, V. Könyves, N. Schneider (CEA Saclay, France) for the Gould Belt survey Key Program. The image is a composite of the wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red) and spans about 1.3 x 2.4 degrees. North is up and east is to the left. In this view, the nebula corresponds to the brightest region in the center of the image, where it is lit up by the Trapezium group of stars at its heart. Embedded within the red and yellow filaments are a handful of point-like sources: these are protostars, the seeds of new stars that will soon ignite and begin to flood their surrounds with intense radiation.


This colour-composite image of IC 5146 shows the extended filamentary structure of this star-forming cloud. A detailed study of this complex has shown a total of 27 filaments that all appear to have very similar widths, with a value of about 0.3 light years. The glowing cavity at the top of the image, also known as the Cocoon Nebula, is an HII region, where a young and bright B0 star illuminates the ionised hydrogen gas, causing it to shine. Some young stellar objects are visible as bright spots along the main filaments; many other young stellar objects are located in the Cocoon Nebula but are not visible in this image.


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