The M42 nebula is also known as the Orion Nebula Messier 42, which is the brightest starforming diffuse nebula in the sky. It is located just beneath the belt of the Orion Constellation, and it is visible to the human eye on a moonless night sky during winter on the northern hemisphere.
M42 is named after the French Charles Messier, who included the Orion Nebula in his catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters published in 1774, but it had been observed thousands of years before that.
This is a giant molecular gas cloud, an Emmission Nebulae in which new stars and planetary systems are formed. This is a cradle where stars are born!
The nebula is ca. 25 light years wide, and is thought to contain around 2000 young stars, several of them moving away from the giant gas cloud. The new stars are less than 1 million years old – and even protostars or ’unborn suns’ are in the making. On a geological scale, 1 million years is nothing.
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