Hubble Images Star Forming Regions in the Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula M42 Hubble pictures: A star forming region, Protoplanetary disks, Proplyd close-up.
Other HST pictures of M42: Pre-repair, November 1995, January 1997, May 1997 (OMC 1 with NIC), August 2000 (Trapezium in IR), April 2001 (Proplyds under hot radiation).

Hubble probes the Orion Nebula

[Region in Orion Nebula, HST] A NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a region of the Great Nebula in Orion.

This is one of the nearest regions of very recent star formation (300,000 years ago). The nebula is a giant gas cloud illuminated by the brightest of the young hot stars at the top of the picture. Many of the fainter young stars are surrounded by disks of dust and gas that are slightly more than twice the diameter of the Solar System.

The great plume of gas in the lower left in this picture is the result of the ejection of material from a recently formed star.

The brightest portions are "hills" on the surface of the nebula, and the long bright bar is where Earth observers look along a long "wall" on a gaseous surface. The diagonal length of the image is 1.6 light-years. Red light depicts emission in Nitrogen; green is Hydrogen; and blue is Oxygen.

The Orion Nebula star-birth region is 1,500 light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter.

  • Original press release (STScI-PR94-24a)

    Close-Up of "Proplyds" in Orion

    [Proplyds] A Hubble Space Telescope view of a small portion of the Orion Nebula reveals five young stars. Four of the stars are surrounded by gas and dust trapped as the stars formed, but were left in orbit about the star. These are possibly protoplanetary disks, or "proplyds," that might evolve on to agglomerate planets. The proplyds which are closest to the hottest stars of the parent star cluster are seen as bright objects, while the object farthest from the hottest stars is seen as a dark object. The field of view is only 0.14 light-years across.

    Above images were taken on 29 December 1993 with the HST's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. They were thus among the first images obtained with the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope after the Space Shuttle servicing mission, STS-61.

  • Original press release (STScI-PR94-24b)

    Hubble view of a Protoplanetary Disk

    [PropDark] A Hubble Space Telescope view of a very young star (between 300,000 and a million years of age) surrounded by material left over from the star's formation. The cool, reddish star is about one fifth the mass of our Sun. The dark disk, seen in silhouette against the background of the Orion Nebula, is possibly a protoplanetary disk from which planets will form. The disk contains at least seven times the material as our Earth. The disk is 56 billion miles across (90 billion kilometers), or 7.5 times the diameter of our Solar System.

    The Orion Nebula starbirth region is 1,500 light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter.

    The image was taken on 29 December 1993 with the HST's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, WFPC2, in PC mode.

  • Original press release (STScI-PR94-24c)

    Credit: C.R. O'Dell/Rice University, and NASA

    The images in this page were used to produce a nice Orion Nebula Animation, simulating an approach to a protostar in the Orion nebula [Caption].

    More, newer (Nov 1995) Hubble images of and informations on the Orion Nebula and its protoplanetary disks.

    Hartmut Frommert (
    Christine Kronberg (

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    Last Modification: 6 Jul 1999, 23:55 MET