A Different View of the Flame Nebula

Wise_wise2012-004_1024

wise_WISE2012-004 July 2nd, 2012

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

The Flame Nebula sits on the eastern hip of Orion the Hunter, a constellation most easily visible in the northern hemisphere during evenings in the winter. This view of the Flame nebula from WISE, NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, shows an expanded view of this enormous space cloud.

This view takes in a vast cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born. Three familiar nebulae are visible in the central region: the Flame nebula, the Horsehead nebula, and NGC 2023. The Flame is the brightest and largest in the image. It is being lit up by a star inside it that is 20 times the mass of the Sun and would be as bright to our eyes as the other stars in Orions belt if it werent for all the surrounding dust, which makes it appear 4 billion times dimmer than it really is.

NGC 2023 is the bright knot below the Flame. The famous Horsehead nebula is visible poking out of the edge of the cloud, just to the right of NGC 2023 and down a touch. It takes on a very different view in infrared compared to visible light. In visible light, the horses head is a silhouetted dark cloud in front of glowing gas. But here, we see the dust in that dark cloud glowing in infrared light.

Two of the three stars in Orions belt are visible in this image, but despite their prominence to our eyes in the night sky, they are somewhat unremarkable as seen by WISE. Alnitak, the far left star in Orions belt, is a multiple blue giant star system located 736 light-years away. In this image, it is located just to the right of the central part of the Flame nebula. Alnilam, the middle star of Orions belt, is a variable blue supergiant, located 1,980 light-years away. Despite having a radius 24 times bigger than the Sun, and luminosity 275,000 times greater than the Sun, it only appears as a moderately bright star near the upper right corner of this image.

Another noteworthy feature in this image is the bright red arc at the lower right. This arc surrounds the star sigma Orionis, the upper star in the sword of Orion, which hangs from his belt. It is a blue dwarf multiple star system, located 1,070 light-years away. It is moving through space at a breathtaking speed of 50 km/s (113,000 mph). At that speed, winds from the star system crash into the gas and dust outside the system and create a bow shock, where material in front of the speeding Sigma Orionis system is piling up. The energy from the bow shock heats up dust in the region and makes it glow in infrared.

Color in this image represents specific infrared wavelengths. Blue represents light emitted at 3.4-micron wavelengths and cyan (blue-green) represents 4.6-microns, both of which come mainly from hot stars. Relatively cooler objects, such as the dust of the nebulae, appear green and red. Green represents 12-micron light and red represents 22-micron light.

Provider: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

Image Source: http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/gallery_FlameNebula2.html

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Flame Nebula Horsehead Nebula NGC 2024 Barnard 33
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula > Type > Star Formation
Nebula > Appearance > Emission
Nebula > Appearance > Dark

Distance

Universescale1
1,000 light years
Wise_wise2012-004_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 5h 41m 42.7s
DEC = -1° 54’ 44.0”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
3.1 x 3.1 degrees
Constellation
Orion

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Blue
Cyan
Green
Red
Wise_wise2012-004_1280
×
ID
WISE2012-004
Subject Category
B.4.1.2.   B.4.2.1.   B.4.2.3.  
Subject Name
Flame Nebula, Horsehead Nebula, NGC 2024, Barnard 33
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Release Date
2012-07-02
Lightyears
1,000
Redshift
Reference Url
http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/gallery_FlameNebula2.html
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
85.427920, -1.912220
Reference Dimension
5525, 5535
Reference Pixel
2825.5, 3416.5
Scale
-5.55556000000000e-04, 5.55556000000000e-04
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
wise
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/wise/WISE2012-004
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2014-12-16T23:20:59Z
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
1,000 light years