I am always amazed at the artistry that astronomers bring to their imaging. While browsing the Astronomy Picture of the Day archives I ran across this image of the three belt stars in Orion (one of my favorite constellations). IMHO, Davide De Martin has created a masterpiece!
Of course, I’m a huge fan of nebulae. Just as I like Mars for its stark beauty and promise of future exploration, I find starbirth nebulae to be … ah… pregnant with stellar promise. Fecund with the bounty of future stars to come!
Why is this? I don’t know, exactly. Maybe it has something to do with the idea that starbirth was one of those last frontier subjects that we could only speculate about for so long, until we had the means to peer deep inside the nurseries and see what was happening with young stellar objects and such. For decades nebulae were “mysterious” and “impenetrable.” No longer, not with the advent of infrared-sensitive instruments that could can cut through the veil hiding the secret birth places of stars.
Not that the Belt Stars are hidden. But the region they front for is a cauldron of stellar creation, and the more we look into this area, the more we find. It’s fascinating and awe-inspiring.
So, if you’re in the mood to see some hot starbirth action, go out and find the Belt Stars of Orion and then check out the greyish-green fog of light just beneath them… the Orion Nebula. It’s a hotbed of young stars newly emerged from their birth cocoons. Beautiful, but hardly mysterious anymore.