ESASky Releases Webb’s Wide-Angle View of the Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula, located south of Orion’s belt, is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky. Recently, new images of this stunning celestial object have been captured by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope and included in ESA’s ESASky application, allowing users to visualize and download astronomical data with ease.

At the core of the Orion Nebula lies the young Trapezium Cluster of stars. These stars, with their intense ultraviolet radiation fields, illuminate the surrounding gas and dust. The result is a breathtaking display of cosmic beauty. Moreover, within the OMC-1 molecular cloud behind the Trapezium Cluster, protostars continue to form, adding to the dynamic nature of this region.

For astronomers, the Orion Nebula is a treasure trove of information about star formation and early stellar evolution. It offers a rich diversity of phenomena and objects to study, including outflows and planet-forming disks around young stars, embedded protostars, brown dwarfs, free-floating planetary mass objects, and photodissociation regions where the radiation from massive stars influences the chemistry of the surrounding gas.

The new images obtained by the James Webb Space Telescope’s near-infrared camera (NIRCam) have been transformed into two mosaics—one from the short-wavelength channel and another from the long-wavelength channel. These mosaics are among the largest observed by Webb to date and provide high-resolution views of the nebula. The short-wavelength mosaic highlights details in discs and outflows, while the long-wavelength mosaic showcases the intricate network of dust and organic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

These stunning images have been incorporated into ESA’s ESASky application, allowing astronomers and enthusiasts alike to explore the vast array of interesting astronomical sources contained within them. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate through the images and discover hidden treasures waiting to be found.

It is important to note that the new imaging of the Orion Nebula was obtained as part of the Webb Cycle One program, specifically program #1256. The James Webb Space Telescope, launched into space as a result of an international collaboration between NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is the largest and most powerful telescope ever deployed. ESA played a significant role in this collaboration, providing the telescope’s launch service using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle and contributing to the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission. Additionally, ESA provided the NIRSpec spectrograph and 50% of the MIRI mid-infrared instrument.

The inclusion of these new images in ESASky allows astronomers to further their understanding of the Orion Nebula and its role in star formation and early stellar evolution. It’s an exciting time for scientific exploration, with the James Webb Space Telescope providing unprecedented views of the cosmos. So, take a moment to explore these captivating images and see what hidden treasures you can uncover within the Orion Nebula.