Astronomers working at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have captured the deepest, most detailed image of the Orion Nebula to date.
The team used an infrared instrument called HAWK-I, which is mounted to the VLT, to capture this and several other breathtaking images.
The famous Orion Nebula, located 1,350 light years from the sun, spans about 24 light-years within the constellation of Orion. It is visible from Earth with the naked eye, as a fuzzy patch in Orion’s sword, the European Space Observatory (ESO) said.
Like some other nebulae, Orion is strongly illuminated by ultraviolet radiation from tons of hot stars born inside it.
According to an ESO press release, the images reveal a wealth of low mass bodies, like faint brown dwarfs (failed stars) and planet-sized objects. This gives astronomers a deeper look into the history of star formation within the nebula.
Because of how close the Orion Nebula is, the ESO says it’s a prefect test bed for understanding the process and history of star formation, as well as figuring out how stars of different masses are produced.