Sword of Orion
This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion nebula, our closest massive star-making factory. It is located approximately 1,450 light-years from Earth. The nebula is close enough to appear to the naked eye as a fuzzy star in the sword of the popular hunter constellation. The nebula itself is located on the lower half of the image, surrounded by a ring of dust. It formed in a cold cloud of gas and dust and contains about 1,000 young stars. These stars illuminate the cloud, creating the beautiful nebulosity, or swirls of material, seen here in infrared.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Megeath (University of Toledo, Ohio)