The magnificent Orion nebula, powered by Trapezium, and observable by small telescopes

March 12, 2017

[CLICK ON IMAGE FOR HIGH RESOLUTION, Christoph Kaltseis, CEDIC 2017]

OrionNear the center of this sharp cosmic portrait, at the heart of the Orion Nebula, are four hot, massive stars known as the Trapezium.

Tightly gathered within a region about 1.5 light-years in radius, they dominate the core of the dense Orion Nebula Star Cluster. Ultraviolet ionizing radiation from the Trapezium stars, mostly from the brightest star Theta-1 Orionis C powers the complex star forming region’s entire visible glow.

About three million years old, the Orion Nebula Cluster was even more compact in its younger years . . . . The presence of a black hole within the cluster could explain the observed high velocities of the Trapezium stars.

The Orion Nebula’s distance of some 1,500 light-years would make it the closest known black hole to planet Earth.

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