Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Orion Nebula

Dwarfingly large billows of fluorescent hydrogen smoke glow from the intense ultraviolet radiation emitted from the stars that lie in the centre of this nebula. Blue wisps envelop the chasm that has been sculpted by their radiation pressure. Deep blue emission is caused by the atomic line of the hydrogen atom, where the electron quantum jumps between levels n=4 and n=2. On top of this, larger molecules drift and float about and reflect the bluish starlight from the central trapezium of hot stars. Among the larger molecules we call 'dust' many stars are being born. Infra red space telescopes can penetrate this dust to reveal the stars in the process of creation via nuclear ignition, driven by the gravitational collapse of leagues of dust molecules. A thousand or so years later this light hits my camera for a few minutes. Cool ... literally freezing, but with a hot centre.

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