Near the center of this sharp cosmic portrait, at
the heart of the Orion Nebula,
are four hot, massive stars
Gathered within a region about 1.5 light-years in radius,
they dominate the core of the dense Orion Nebula Star Cluster.
Ultraviolet ionizing radiation from the Trapezium stars,
mostly from the brightest star
powers the complex star forming region's entire visible glow.
About three million years old, the Orion Nebula Cluster was
even more compact in its younger years and a
recent dynamical study
runaway stellar collisions
at an earlier age may have formed a black hole
with more than 100 times the mass of the Sun.
The presence of a black hole within the cluster
could explain the observed high velocities of the Trapezium stars,
The Orion Nebula's distance of some 1500 light-years
would make it the closest known black hole to planet Earth.
Image Data -
Hubble Legacy Archive,