Orion Nebula and Running Man
The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.
The Running Man Nebula (also known as NGC 1973/5/7) is a reflection nebula 1/2 degree northeast of the Orion Nebula. The three NGC objects are divided by darker regions. It is also called The Running Man Nebula and Sharpless Catalog 279.
Credit: Robert Turner/Wikipedia
Star Cluster NGC 2074 in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Hubble peered into a small portion of the nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074 (top). The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away near the Tarantula nebula, one of the most active star-forming regions in our Local Group of galaxies.
The high-energy radiation blazing out from clusters of hot young stars already born in NGC 2074 is sculpting the wall of the nebula by slowly eroding it away. Another young cluster may be hidden beneath a circle of brilliant blue gas at center, bottom.
In this approximately 100-light-year-wide fantasy-like landscape, dark towers of dust rise above a glowing wall of gases on the surface of the molecular cloud. The seahorse-shaped pillar at lower, right is approximately 20 light-years long, roughly four times the distance between our Sun and the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.
Happy Earth Day! Every year on April 22, the world celebrates this amazingly diverse planet we call home, focusing on ways to protect it from the often destructive practices of its human inhabitants. While many of these efforts focus on the conservation of Earth’s most fragile habitats, we frequently forget just how extreme and alien-like our own planet can be. The photos below showcase Earth’s unbelievably varying landscapes and remind us that we often live our lives confined only to a minuscule part of this amazing planet.