Orion Nebula (Herschel, after Turner)

I stumbled across this wonderful image (and associated description) yesterday and thought I’d share it. It’s a region of the Orion Nebula (which is located in the  Midlands region of Orion’s “sword”, i.e. the long thing hanging down below his belt).  It’s a turbulent region of dust and gas in which stars are forming. This image was taken in the far-infrared part of the spectrum by the Herschel Space Observatory, which is now defunct but much data remains to be analysed. Because the image was taken at wavelengths much longer than optical light, the colours are obviously “false”. I don’t work on star formation so I tend to see images like this just as beautiful things to be enjoyed for themselves rather than as a subject for scientific research. In fact, I have no difficulty at all in describing this picture as a work of art, slightly reminiscent of the cloudscapes and seascapes of  J.M.W Turner in that it is, at the same time, both a representation of a natural phenomenon and  an abstract creation that transcends it. You can click on the image to make it larger…

Orion_A

UPDATE: I see that someone else has thought of the parallel with Turner!

One Response to “Orion Nebula (Herschel, after Turner)”

  1. “the long thing hanging down below his belt”

    That’s a sword? Yeah, right. 🙂 Should it be enclosed in a sticky thong?

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