Orion (nebula of)

Orion (nebula of)

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It is a cluster of gas and dust that emits a dim luminosity due to an excitation phenomenon produced by stars that are inside. It is found in the famous constellation Orion, under the three stars that form the mythical hunter's belt, and can be easily observed with binoculars or a low-power telescope.

Its integral magnitude is around 3m, but in reality the object cannot be distinguished with the naked eye, if it is not in exceptionally good visibility conditions, due to the fact that its luminosity is diffused over a very wide surface.

Inside the nebula there are four very close stars, known as the Orion Trapeze, Orionis), with respective magnitudes d 5,4, 6,9, 7 and 8. One of them is responsible for the excitation phenomena that it produces on the nebula and that make it visible to our eyes.

Distant about 1,500 light-years from us, the Orion Nebula has an approximate diameter of 25 light years and contains an amount of matter equivalent to 10 solar masses. Due to the large volume in which this mass is distributed, its average density is extremely low, lower than the best absolute vacuum that can be achieved in terrestrial laboratories.

Orion has an important cosmogonic value, because it is considered that in some regions of the nebula there are phenomena of condensation of matter very similar to those that accompanied the formation of our primordial solar nebula. The Orion Nebula is a cradle in which new stars are being born and perhaps new solar systems similar to ours.

Discovered in 1610 by the French astronomer, disciple of Galileo, Nicola Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637), the Orion Nebula is classified in the Messier catalog under the acronym M 42 (corresponding to NGC 1976). In recent years it has also acquired great importance in regard to Astrobiology studies, from the moment that interstellar organic molecules have been located there.

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