The constellation of Orion is easy to see in the night sky. But around it is the fainter Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.
A 3D map of the Pillars of Creation has been made, and from it we know they will still be around for millions of years.
The Boomerang Nebula is the coldest natural location in the universe. It has a temperature of 1 K, or just one degree above absolute zero. This is particularly interesting because the cosmic microwave background is about 3 K. That makes the nebula colder than empty space.
E. E. Barnard is an astronomer perhaps best known for measuring the proper motion of a faint red dwarf about six light years away, now known as Barnard’s star. But Barnard was also a pioneer of astrophotography, and he did a great deal of work studying dark nebulae.
The Pillars of Creation (seen above) is an image of a portion of the Eagle nebula (M16) taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. It soon became one of the most iconic space images of all time. The Eagle nebula is a stellar nursery, with several regions of gas and dust where stars are actively forming, including the pillars.
There’s a lot of gas and dust in the universe. Some of it has coalesced into dark nebulae, such as bok globules that almost look like holes in the starry night. We can observe these by the background light they absorb. Some clouds of dust are close enough to a star that light reflects off them, creating reflection nebulae such as the one near T Tauri. But sometimes a cloud of gas and dust is near a hot star, but too diffuse to scatter light much. In this case it can produce a faint nebula known as an emission nebula.
The Orion Nebula has been in the news recently due to a new set of pictures such as this one from Astronomy Picture of the Day. It is an image of high velocity “bullets.”