September 12, 2022
James Webb Telescope has revealed intricate details of Orion Nebula as captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) in these images released on September 12, 2022. The Orion Nebula is one of the most famous celestial objects visible to the unaided human eye. It is also one of the most photographed and is a popular subject for astronomy and space enthusiasts. The nebula is located in the constellation of Orion and is a result of a stellar nursery where new stars are born. It is part of the much larger Orion Anele System and is comprised of gas and dust from hundreds of newborn stars.
The Orion Nebula also known as NGC 1976 or M42 is situated in the Milky Way, being 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 with an apparent magnitude 4.0. Located at a distance of approximately 1,344 light-years from earth, it is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The Orion nebula is estimated to be 24 light-years across and has a mass of about 2,000 times that of the Sun.
The nebula's name comes from the prominent group of three stars that make up the diadem (or 'orion's belt') featured prominently in ancient Greek mythology. The Greek word emubios means 'a demon cast out of heaven.' Although sometimes depicted as a horse-like creature, the constellation's most famous feature was later identified as the shape of a straight-cut diamond. This was done by William Herschel using his own eyes to see it for the first time. Ancient Greeks believed that this nebulosity represented a figure cast out of heaven. They also viewed it as an omen - interpreting its distorted form as a bad omen for future generations. Many thought that this was caused by a comet striking earth and fragmenting its body in this way. However, astronomers now know that the nebula is naturally occurring and does not represent a cosmic castaway. Instead, it represents the birth of new stars.
The stars within the Orion Nebula are still very young- less than 1 million years old. This makes them just a fraction of their life expectancies, as they have a shorter lifespan than most people. The stars are also incredibly hot due to their limited time on earth, which causes them to radiate more energy than they can dissipate. As a result, they become even more intense when they are still immature.
Although popularized in popular media such as 'Star Trek,' the Orion Nebula is actually one of the most prominent astronomical sites in our own galaxy. Not only does it represent the birth place of new stars, but it also symbolizes many different cosmic questions such as life, death and creation itself.
Credit - NASA, ESA, CSA, Data reduction and analysis : PDRs4All ERS Team;