One of the largest near-infrared high-resolution mosaics of the Orion A molecular cloud, is now presented in this new spectacular new image, taken by the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile .
The fascinating cloud is the nearest known massive star factory, lying approximately 1350 light-years from Earth.
The new image – a montage – from the VISION survey (VIenna Survey In Orion) covers the whole of the Orion A molecular cloud, one of the two giant molecular clouds in the Orion molecular cloud complex (OMC). Orion A extends for approximately eight degrees to the south of the familiar part of Orion known as the sword.
Almost 800 000 individually identified stars, young stellar objects and distant galaxies,have been catalogued with the help of the VISION survey.
VISTA, on the other hand, can see light that the human eye cannot, allowing astronomers to identify many otherwise hidden objects in the stellar nursery. Very young stars that cannot be seen in visible-light images are revealed when observed at longer infrared wavelengths, where the dust that shrouds them is more transparent.
The most spectacular object is the glorious Orion Nebula, also called Messier 42 seen towards the left of the image.
This region forms part of the sword of the famous bright constellation of Orion (The Hunter). The VISTA catalogue covers both familiar objects and new discoveries.
These include five new young stellar object candidates and ten candidate galaxy clusters.
This extraordinary image and future images like this one, will help to create a complete picture of the star formation processes in Orion A, for both low and high mass stars.
The VISION survey allows the earliest evolutionary phases of young stars within nearby molecular clouds to be systematically studied.