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[تصویر:  13601676361.jpg]





The Cosmic Hearth
The
Orion nebula is featured in this sweeping image from NASA's Wide-field
Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The constellation of Orion is
prominent in the evening sky throughout the world from about December
through April of each year. The nebula (also catalogued as Messier 42)
is located in the sword of Orion, hanging from his famous belt of three
stars. The star cluster embedded in the nebula is visible to the unaided
human eye as a single star, with some fuzziness apparent to the most
keen-eyed observers. Because of its prominence, cultures all around the
world have given special significance to Orion. The Maya of Mesoamerica
envision the lower portion of Orion, his belt and feet (the stars Saiph
and Rigel), as being the hearthstones of creation, similar to the
triangular three-stone hearth that is at the center of all traditional
Maya homes. The Orion nebula, lying at the center of the triangle, is
interpreted by the Maya as the cosmic fire of creation surrounded by
smoke.

This metaphor of a cosmic fire of creation is apt. The
Orion nebula is an enormous cloud of dust and gas where vast numbers of
new stars are being forged. It is one of the closest sites of star
formation to Earth and therefore provides astronomers with the best view
of stellar birth in action. Many other telescopes have been used to
study the nebula in detail, finding wonders such as planet-forming disks
forming around newly forming stars. WISE was an all-sky survey giving
it the ability to see these sites of star formation in a larger context.
This view spans more than six times the width of the full moon,
covering a region nearly 100 light-years across. In it, we see the Orion
nebula surrounded by large amounts of interstellar dust, colored green.


Astronomers now realize that the Orion nebula is part of the larger Orion molecular cloud complex, which also includes the Flame nebula.
This complex in our Milky Way galaxy is actively making new stars. It
is filled with dust warmed by the light of the new stars within, making
the dust glow in infrared light.

Color in this image represents
specific infrared wavelengths. Blue represents light emitted at
3.4-micron wavelengths and cyan (blue-green) represents 4.6 microns,
both of which come mainly from hot stars. Relatively cooler objects,
such as the dust of the nebulae, appear green and red. Green represents
12-micron light and red represents 22-micron light.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
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