Stunning new photos of the Orion Nebula captured by the James Webb Space Telescope  

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has captured stunning photographs of the Orion Nebula, a star-forming cloud of gas and dust.  

The "Messier 42" (M42) Orion Nebula is 1,500 light years from Earth in Orion. It is the nearest massive star-forming and stellar nursery to Earth.   

Humans have studied the Orion Nebula, which is visible to the naked eye under dark skies, but the JWST photographs show it in incredible detail.   

The powerful space telescope focused on "the Orion Bar," a diagonal, ridge-like structure of gas and dust in M42's lower left quadrant.   

Overdense areas in massive gas and dust clouds collapse under gravity, becoming stars. This creates a "protostar" in its natal gas and dust cradle.   

Protostars acquire material from their natal envelopes until they have enough mass to start hydrogen-to-helium nuclear fusion in their centers. A main-sequence star like our sun will have gone through this procedure 4.6 billion years ago.  

Because these overdense areas aren't the same size or mass and don't collapse at the same moment, the problem is more difficult than it seems.  

"The process of star formation is messy because star-forming regions contain stars of varying masses at different stages of their development while still embedded in their natal cloud and because many different physical and chemical processes are at play that influence one another," stated Peeters.  

This analysis found over 600 chemical fingerprints in the Orion Nebula's spectra, which could greatly improve PDR models.  

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