M42: The Orion Nebula

3a4b1d9efd0331461d63c8e356e7e211.1824x0_q100_watermark_watermark_opacity-10_watermark_position-6_watermark_text-Copyright Jose Fco. del Aguila

Interstellar clouds like the Orion Nebula are found throughout galaxies such as the Milky Way. They begin as gravitationally bound blobs of cold, neutral hydrogen, intermixed with traces of other elements. The cloud can contain hundreds of thousands of solar masses and extend for hundreds of light years. The tiny force of gravity that could compel the cloud to collapse is counterbalanced by the very faint pressure of the gas in the cloud.

Whether due to collisions with a spiral arm, or through the shock wave emitted from supernovae, the atoms are precipitated into heavier molecules and the result is a molecular cloud. This presages the formation of stars within the cloud, usually thought to be within a period of 10-30 million years, as regions pass the Jeans mass and the destabilized volumes collapse into disks. The disk concentrates at the core to form a star, which may be surrounded by a protoplanetary disk. This is the current stage of evolution of the nebula, with additional stars still forming from the collapsing molecular cloud. The youngest and brightest stars we now see in the Orion Nebula are thought to be less than 300,000 years old, and the brightest may be only 10,000 years in age.

Some of these collapsing stars can be particularly massive, and can emit large quantities of ionizing ultraviolet radiation. An example of this is seen with the Trapezium cluster. Over time the ultraviolet light from the massive stars at the center of the nebula will push away the surrounding gas and dust in a process called photo evaporation. This process is responsible for creating the interior cavity of the nebula, allowing the stars at the core to be viewed from Earth.The largest of these stars have short life spans and will evolve to become supernovae.

Within about 100,000 years, most of the gas and dust will be ejected. The remains will form a young open cluster, a cluster of bright, young stars surrounded by wispy filaments from the former cloud. The Pleiades is a famous example of such a cluster.
Imaging telescopes or lenses: Sky-Watcher 200/1000 Black Diamond
Mounts: CGEM
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Lunatico Astronomia EZG-60
Guiding cameras: Lunatico Astronomia QHY5-II
Software: Photoshop CS6, PixInsight LE, DeepSkyStacker 3.3.3
Accessories: Baader MPCC Corrector de Coma
Dates: Nov. 10, 2013
Frames:
8×120″ ISO1600 bin 1×1
29×60″ ISO1600 bin 1×1
Integration: 0.8 hours
Bias: ~150

Author: Jose Fco. Del Aguila
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI 10 May 2014