A cosmic cloud full of star-making material

Old data from retired space telescopes has been used to create a new image of a vast star-forming region 1,350 lightyears away.

Orion A molecular cloud. Credit: ESA/Herschel/Planck; J. D. Soler, MPIA

A vast cloud 1,350 lightyears away in the constellation of Orion, Orion A is packed full of star-making gas and dust.

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The colours in this infrared image indicate the light emitted by interstellar dust grains mixed within the gas, while the faint grey bands show the magnetic field’s orientation.

This recently released image uses data from the Herschel and Planck space observatories, which operated until 2013.

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Observatories Herschel and Planck space observatories

Release date 18 November 2019

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Image credit ESA/Herschel/Planck; J. D. Soler, MPIA