Photo in the News: Orion Nebula in Billion-Pixel Beauty

Picture: Hubble image of Orian Nebula
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January 12, 2006—If beauty is in the details, this is one of the most beautiful pictures ever made.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured one of the most detailed astronomical images in history. Released yesterday, the original of this Orion Nebula image is a mosaic of a billion pixels—nearly 5,000 times sharper than the 212,521-pixel version on this page.

Despite their stunning depiction of stars still forming in wombs of gas and dust (as well as thousands of heretofore unseen stars), these details aren't simply in the service of beauty.

"Our goal is to calculate the masses and ages for these young stars, so that we can map their history and get a general scenario of the star formation in that region," researcher Massimo Robberto of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, said in a media statement. "We can then sort the stars by mass and age and look for trends."

Want to see more? You can zoom in on more detailed versions of this image at HubbleSite.

—Ted Chamberlain

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