(via APOD: 2012 October 6 - At the Heart of Orion)
At the Heart of Orion
Credit: Image Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, Processing - Robert Gendler
I’ve come to love the fact that we’ll never quite get done parsing all of the Hubble data. We’ll always encounter people who are processing it in a slightly different way the provides new and interesting visuals.
This is the Trapezium cluster of stars in the heart of the Orion Nebula. They are very young (3 million years old), very hot, and very massive. Most of the visual glow you see in this image (you’ll note that the reflection aspect of the nebula is yellow, not the usual blue, because there is just so much light and radiation) comes from just those four stars. Now there’s a harsh ultraviolet environment for you.
Additionally, it would seem that the prior conditions of the nebula, smaller and more compact, created some runaway stellar collisions (massive stars being born very close to each other, falling into gravitational entanglement, keep merging and gravitationally attracting more of their massive neighbors) have created a hundred-solar-mass black hole. The Trapezium stars move quite fast, so this would explain their motion.
It would also put a black hole about 1500 light-years from us, the closest one known.