This image was created by a planetarium program and shows the stars one would see with the unaided eye on a clear winter night.
Most of the objects in the image are stars, many of which are very similar to our sun. But some, outlined in green, are nebulae or areas of interstellar matter that emit optical light. Some of the nebulae are by products of the star formation that is currently occurring in the direction of Orion. Other nebulae were produced by an event called a supernova, an explosion of a massive star, about ten million years ago.
One of the most famous nebulae, the Great Orion Nebula is in this image.
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© Ronald J. Maddalena 1998