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
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.