Stellar Nurseries Orion

The figure of Orion the Hunter is a familiar sight in the winter sky of the Northern hemisphere. It is one of the most easily recognized constellations and includes one tenth of the 70 brightest stars. Less familiar, perhaps, is the fact that this area is an extraordinarily active site of stellar formation. Over the years, no similar region has received such intense astronomical scrutiny, nor been studied with such a variety of observational tools. We refer the reader to the sky map of Figure 1.1. Here, some of the more conspicuous of the constellation's members are indicated, including the red supergiant Betelgeuse at the Hunter's right shoulder, and brilliant blue Rigel at his left foot. South of the three stars that comprise the belt of the Hunter is a bright, fuzzy patch. This is the Orion Nebula, a cloud of gas being heated by the intense radiation of the Trapezium stars embedded within it.

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