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The Orion Nebula in the Eyes of the Spitzer Space Telescope

This is the Orion Nebula, a massive stellar nursery located some 1,500 light years away. This image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope was built from data intended to monitor the brightness of the young stars of the said nebula, of which many are still surrounded by “dusty, planet-forming disks.” Orion’s young stars, which are only around a million years old, are younger than our own Sun, which is already 4.6 billion years old.

The region's hottest stars are found in the Trapezium Cluster, the brightest cluster near picture center. Launched into orbit around the Sun on August 25, 2003 Spitzer's liquid helium coolant ran out in May 2009. The infrared space telescope continues to operate though, its mission scheduled to end on January 30, 2020. Recorded in 2010, this false color view is from two channels that still remain sensitive to infrared light at Spitzer's warmer operating temperatures.

No matter how many times I look at space photos, I never cease to be amazed by the wonders of the cosmos above us.

(Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech)


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