Giant Bow Shock in Space
The beautiful image above shows a giant bow shock wave in space around a young star. The name of the star is LL Ori and it is located in one of our favorite locations in space – the Orion Nebula.
The Orion Nebula is a very active star forming region containing new stars and massive amounts of dust and gas. As stars form, streams of gas get blown away by their stellar wind. Occasionally these streams of gas collide forming a crescent-shaped feature called a bow shock wave. You can see an example of a bow shock wave in the center of the image above. If you look closely, you can see another bow shock wave around another star in the upper left corner of the image.
The Orion Nebula is known as Messier 42 or M42. Even though the Orion Nebula is about 1,350 light years away from Earth, it is visible to the naked eye and can be found in the constellation Orion. The constellation Orion is easily found in the winter sky in the Northern Hemisphere. The Orion Nebula is part of Orion’s sword.
The Orion Nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex extends throughout the constellation Orion and includes Barnard’s Loop, the Horsehead Nebula, M43, M78, and the Flame Nebula.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA