The Orion Star-Forming Region

One of the closest star-forming regions to Earth is located in the constellation of Orion. When we go stargazing and look at this constellation, we can see some of the young, massive stars shining brightly, but the complex networks of turbulent dust and gas shaped by supernovae and ionizing stellar winds are all but invisible. Only by looking at infrared emission from the dust or hydrogen-alpha emission from the ionized gas does the full story begin to emerge.

One particularly beautiful and interesting part of the Orion Star-Forming Complex is the Orion Nebula. This nebula provides a particularly good laboratory for studying the ISM, as multiple phases coexist and the whole region is very active. Additionally, the nebula has been a popular target for amateur astronomers and professional scientists alike: beautiful high-resolution images taken with Spitzer (infrared), Hubble (visible), and Chandra (X-ray) have revealed the process of star formation in unprecedented detail. Some of these images are explored in the WorldWide Telescope tour.

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