A star is born: Flickr photo of the day

Michael Clemmer
CompassFebruary 24, 2014

Yes, the Aurora Borealis is beyond cool, but this photo, taken in Sørreisa, Norway, shows something even cooler. Look closely at the constellation Orion in the lower center of the image. There are three bright stars, Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka, all pointing toward the aurora forming Orion’s belt. Below them are three more stars in a line pointing toward the earth. One of those, the center one, isn’t a star at all; it’s the Great Orion Nebula, a star nursery.

Over 1,630 light years from Earth, it is believed to be a vast region of star formation.  An image of the nebula, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, is stunningly beautiful and virtually impossible to comprehend. Star formation doesn’t happen overnight; astronomers estimate that the stars incubating in Orion’s nebula will be fully formed in about 100 million years.

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Photo by Mats Anda.