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2003 Bonus Image

NGC 2174 - An emission nebula in Orion

This bright and colorful emission nebula in Orion envelops a number of young and bright stars, such as the blue star in the center of the image. In this image, the light of glowing oxygen is colored green, and that of hydrogen gas is red. These elements are seen to glow in many nebula that populate the Milky Way Galaxy - the glow results from the excitation of these atoms by the intense visible and ultraviolet radiation from the stars within.

This image represnts a portion of the entire cloud. I lies approximately 6,400 light years away. Note the dark portion on the right side of this image; here, the glowing gas is being hidden by a dense cloud of interstellar dust.

This nebula lies in the upper portion of Orion - near the Hunter's head and close to the constellation of Gemini. Under dark skies, it is visible in binoculars as a faint fuzzy patch of light, but the wide-field imaging instrument at Fick Observatory helps reaveal its intricate structure.