A 3D journey through the Orion Nebula

A 3D journey through the Orion Nebula

"Being able to fly through the nebula's tapestry in three dimensions gives people a much better sense of what the universe is really like", Frank Summers, the visualization scientist who led the effort to create the video, said in a statement. The 3D fly-through also helps in elucidating the universe for the public by adding structure and depth to the lovely images, all of which makes for an inspiring and educating experience. Robert Hurt, lead visualization scientist at IPAC, explained that visualizing the universe in infrared light consisting of multiple wavelengths gives a striking context to the visible light views, which everyone is familiar with.

OXON HILL, MARYLAND The constellation Orion, the hunter, stamps one of the brightest and most recognisable patterns of stars into the northern sky. Orion Nebula is a very bright and violent stellar formation which is situated nearly 1,344 light years away from Earth.

The nebula is about 1,350 light-years from Earth, and it likely represents a good example of the type of place our sun was born 4.6 billion years ago, according to NASA.

The three-dimensional video provides a look at the fantastic topography of the nebula.

This first analysis did not allow Hubble astronomers to determine whether these objects orbit the brighter star or if their proximity in the Hubble image is a result of chance alignment.

A 3D journey through the Orion Nebula

The 3D video takes spectators on a breathtaking journey through gaseous envelopes that surround protoplanetary disks, glowing clouds, and newborn stars. The Spitzer space telescope captures light in the mid-infrared to far-infrared range, capturing objects and structures that are lower in temperature than what Hubble sees.

This might be the coolest thing you see all day.

The visualization comes from NASA's Universe of Learning program, which provides educational resources to students and others interested in the space agency's astrophysics research. The effort combines a direct connection to the science and scientists of NASA's Astrophysics missions with attention to audience needs to enable youth, families, and lifelong learners to explore fundamental questions in science, experience how science is done, and discover the universe for themselves. Starting with the two-dimensional Hubble and Spitzer images, Summers and Hurt worked with experts to analyze the structure inside the nebula. "And in infrared light, the most prominent feature is water", Robberto added.

A special rendering code was written to facilitate the efficient combination of the millions of semi-transparent elements of gas, to give an ethereal feel to the nebula.

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