Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka: The glorious belt of Orion

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[CLICK ON IMAGE FOR HIGH RESOLUTION /  Rogelio Bernal Andreo]

ohorionOtherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion’s well-studied interstellar clouds.

In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower right.

The famous Orion Nebula itself is off the right edge of this colorful star field. The well-framed, wide-field telescopic image spans about 4 degrees on the sky.

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