An Infrared view of the Orion Nebula

"This wide-field view of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), lying about 1350 light-years from Earth, was taken with the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.The new telescope’s huge field of view allows the whole nebula and its surroundings to be imaged in a single picture and its infrared vision also means that it can peer deep into the normally hidden dusty regions and reveal the curious antics of the very active young stars buried there."

Credit: VISTA/ESO

Medieval Norway by RobertCross1 (finally back) on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
After the Vikings, but long before anyone thought to ask “What does the fox say?”, Norway gave us stave churches.

This is the Borgund stave church, in the west-central Norwegian county of Sogn og Fjordane. It is a medieval wooden church built sometime between 1180 and 1250 AD, with later additions and restorations. Its walls are formed by vertical wooden boards, or staves, hence the name “stave church”. The four corner posts were connected to one another by ground sills, resting on a stone foundation. This is one of the best preserved of Norway’s 28 remaining stave churches. Of these, I have visited six so far. The craftsmanship, beauty, and durability of these structures is remarkable, especially considering that they are made of wood, and that they are upwards of 800 years old.

The Orion Nebula - M43

A massive star is illuminating this small region, called M43, and sculpting the landscape of dust and gas. Astronomers call the area a miniature Orion Nebula because of its small size and the single star that is shaping it. The Orion Nebula itself is much larger and has four hefty stars that are carving the dust-and-gas terrain.

Credit: NASA,ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

Orion’s lesser-known nebula

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has taken a close-up view of an outer part of the Orion Nebula’s little brother, Messier 43. This nebula, which is sometimes referred to as De Mairan’s Nebula after its discoverer, is separated from the famous Orion Nebula (Messier 42) by only a dark lane of dust. Both nebulae are part of the massive stellar nursery called the Orion molecular cloud complex, which includes several other nebulae, such as the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) and the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024).

The Orion molecular cloud complex is about 1400 light-years away, making it one of the closest massive star formation regions to Earth. Hubble has therefore studied this extraordinary region extensively over the past two decades, monitoring how stellar winds sculpt the clouds of gas, studying young stars and their surroundings and discovering many elusive objects, such as brown dwarf stars.

This view shows several of the brilliant hot young stars in this less-studied region and it also reveals many of the curious features around even younger stars that are still cocooned by dust.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

In sixth grade, a girl in my class called me crazy and stupid at least once a day like it was on her todo list, but refused to sit across from anyone else than me at lunch. In seventh grade a different girl who never called me stupid or crazy told me she loved me, but refused to ever sit across from me. One time her nose brushed up against my cheek and I know it defies reality, but I’m certain I didn’t breath or move from that moment for a month. I spent my last summer in Pennsylvania after my eighth grade progress report came in the mail. My mom was away because of her job, and my dad was busy with a million things, and my brother was taking summer classes and so it was the first time I’d ever flown alone.

The guy next to me in a window seat told me that the only things worth spending money on are things that connect you to something greater. “We meet the earth via our shoes and tires, so buy nice ones. We meet love through friendship so don’t miss a night out.” I have this U.S. Airways napkin I used to scribble those words he said on because I wanted to hold on to them.

I took a photograph of a girl in the waiting area of a Ruby Tuesdays and she asked me why. I told her that her face told a story much more beautiful than any book I’d ever read, and she cried and hugged me. It was the first photograph I ever took with my grandmas camera.

There are moments that are significant, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed with a feeling that I can neither explain or control, but today felt significant. Not significant like when I graduated high school or when I had my first ‘real’ party. Significant in a way that only feels like the conversation with the guy next to me on the plane, or the hug from a girl who was beautiful but had never believed it before. I don’t always know why I feel things, but today my fortune said “You always bring others happiness,” and more than anything ever, I just hope that’s true.

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