The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex

The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex (or, simply, the Orion Complex) is a large group of bright nebulae, dark clouds, and young stars in the Orion constellation. The cloud is between 1 500 and 1 600 light-years away, and hundreds of light-years across. Several parts of the nebula can be observed through binoculars and small telescopes, and some parts are visible to the naked eye.

What is the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex?

The nebula is important because of its sheer size, as it spreads several degrees from Orion’s Belt to his sword. It is also one of the most active regions of stellar formation visible in the night sky, and is home to both protoplanetary discs and very young stars. The nebula is bright in infrared wavelengths due to the heat-intensive processes involved in the stellar formation, though the complex contains dark nebulae, emission nebulae, reflection nebulae, and H II regions. The presence of ripples on the surface of Orion’s Molecular Cloud have been discovered recently. The ripples result from the expansion of the nebulae gas over pre-existing molecular gas.

The Orion constellation

Orion is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellations in the night sky. It was named after Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology. Its brightest stars are Rigel (Beta Orionis) and Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), a blue-white and a red supergiant, respectively.

The earliest depiction that has been linked to the constellation of Orion is a prehistoric (Aurignacian) mammoth ivory carving found in a cave in the Ach valley in West Germany in 1979. Archaeologists have estimated it to have been fashioned approximately 32,000 to 38,000 years ago. The distinctive pattern of Orion has been recognized in numerous cultures around the world, and many myths have been associated with it. Orion has also been used as a symbol in the modern world.

Image: Rogelio Bernal Andreo
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 Aug. 2017. Web. 11 Aug. 2017. & Wikipedia contributors. “Orion (constellation).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Aug. 2017. Web. 11 Aug. 2017.

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