Messier 42. Orion Nebula.

Note
Very bad diffraction spikes from the FLT 110.

About
The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion's Belt. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. Older texts frequently referred to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.

The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely studied celestial features. The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks, brown dwarfs, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula. There are also supersonic "bullets" of gas piercing the dense hydrogen clouds of the Orion Nebula. Each bullet is ten times the diameter of Pluto's orbit and tipped with iron atoms glowing bright blue. They were probably formed one thousand years ago from an unknown violent event.

The Nebula is in fact part of a much larger nebula that is known as the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex extends throughout the constellation of Orion and includes Barnard's Loop, the Horsehead Nebula, M43, M78 and the Flame Nebula. Stars are forming throughout the Orion Nebula, and due to this heat-intensive process the region is particularly prominent in the infrared.

The nebula is visible with the naked eye even from areas affected by some light pollution. It is seen as the middle "star" in the sword of Orion, which are the three stars located south of Orion's Belt. The star appears fuzzy to sharp-eyed observers, and the nebulosity is obvious through binoculars or a small telescope.

The Orion Nebula contains a very young open cluster, known as the Trapezium due to the asterism of its primary four stars. Two of these can be resolved into their component binary systems on nights with good seeing, giving a total of six stars. The stars of the Trapezium, along with many other stars, are still in their early years. The Trapezium may be a component of the much-larger Orion Nebula Cluster, an association of about 2,000 stars within a diameter of 20 light years. Two million years ago this cluster may have been the home of the runaway stars AE Aurigae, 53 Arietis, and Mu Columbae, which are currently moving away from the nebula at velocities greater than 100 km/s.

Observers have long noted a distinctive greenish tint to the nebula, in addition to regions of red and areas of blue-violet. The red hue is well-understood to be caused by Hα recombination line radiation at a wavelength of 656.3 nm. The blue-violet coloration is the reflected radiation from the massive O-class stars at the core of the nebula.

The green hue was a puzzle for astronomers in the early part of the 20th century because none of the known spectral lines at that time could explain it. There was some speculation that the lines were caused by a new element, and the name "nebulium" was coined for this mysterious material. With better understanding of atomic physics, however, it was later determined that the green spectra was caused by a low-probability electron transition in doubly ionized oxygen, a so-called "forbidden transition". This radiation was all but impossible to reproduce in the laboratory because it depended on the quiescent and nearly collision-free environment found in deep space.



Processing
Maxim DL, CS2 and Noise Ninja.

Exposure
21 x 300 sec.

Calibration
Darks, bias and flats.

Filters
N/A

Cooling temp
-25´ C

Mean FWHM
4,67"

Date
November 6th 2010

Location
Krigslida, Stockholm, Sweden.
N59 06 52.4    E 18 03 54.5

Image aqusition
MaximDL Pro

Scope control
Sky X Pro Native drv, and Maxim DL with Astro-Physics V2 drv.

Telescope
WO FLT 110 DDG

Mount
Astro-Physics Mach 1 GTO

Camera
SBIG ST-8300C

Guiding
ZS 70 Doublet + QCam 5 Guider

Focus system
Lakeside motorfocus.


Inverted B/W image