Hubble Space Telescope's glorious view of the Orion Nebula

Looking back at the iconic 2006 image of the Orion Nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Published: June 20, 2020 at 8:30 am
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Hubble's view of the Orion Nebula. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto ( Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

The Orion Nebula looks absolutely stunning in this beautiful image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and released in 2006.


Hubble's view reveals the star-forming region of gas and dust in incredible detail, and features over 3,000 stars of various sizes.

The Orion Nebula is so-called because it is part of an asterism called Orion's Sword, located in the familiar Orion constellation (need help discerning the difference between constellations and asterisms?).

It is known as a star-forming region, because the presence of gas and dust produces ideal conditions under which stars can be born.

As if to make the point, the bright central region in this image pinpoints the location of four of the most gigantic stars in the nebula. These are called the Trapezium Cluster because of the shape formed by their arrangement.

Ultraviolet light from these stars carves out the gas and dust in the nebula and actually disrupts the development of newly-formed stars.

The Orion Nebula is about 1,500 lightyears away and is a favourite target for amateur astronomers who like to capture deep-sky objects.

If you are an astrophotographer, read our guide on how to photograph the Orion Nebula.

Image stats

Observatory Hubble Space Telescope

Release date 11 January 2006


Image Credit NASA, ESA, M. Robberto ( Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team


Iain Todd, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.

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