NASA has whipped up something that anyone who has ever looked at images of the Orion Nebula has probably dreamed of doing. The video shows what it would be like to fly through the nebular and is made using a combination of visible and infrared images of the nebula taken from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The IR images are pictures of what we can’t see with our naked eyes.
The 3D fly-through of the nebula can be seen in the video at the bottom of the story. The video will take viewers through an area where new stars develop, by glowing clouds of gas heated by intense radiation, and envelopes of gas that surround protoplanetary disks.
The video was created by a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and the Caltech/Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) in Pasadena, California by combining actual scientific imagery and data with Hollywood movie making techniques. If your first thought when looking at the video is that it would be awesome viewed at a planetarium, you are in luck.
The video is being offered to planetariums and other informal learning centers globally to help audiences explore space. The Orion Nebula is visible to the naked eye, it appears as the middle “star” in the sword in the constellation Orion. The nebula is 1,350 light years away and is 2 million years old.
The nebula is an important object for scientific study because it gives a look at what the area that formed our sun 4.6 billion years ago might have looked like. The visualization of the nebula is the result of the products being developed in the NASA Universe of Learning program. NASA says that the movie helps demonstrate the power of multi-wavelength astronomy.