Cosmic bullets pierce the outskirts of
the Orion Nebula some 1500
light-years distant in this
sharp infrared close-up.
Blasted out by energetic massive star formation
the bullets, relatively dense,
hot gas clouds about
ten times the size of Pluto's orbit, are blue in the false color image.
Glowing with the light of ionized iron atoms they travel at speeds
of hundreds of kilometers per second,
their passage traced
by yellowish trails of the nebula's shock-heated
The cone-shaped wakes are up to a fifth of a light-year long.
The detailed image was created using the 8.1 meter
telescope in Chile with a newly commisioned
adaptive optics system (GeMS).
Achieving a larger field of view than previous generation
five laser generated guide stars
to help compensate for the blurring effects of planet Earth's
Gemini Observatory, AURA
Processing: Rodrigo Carrasco (Gemini Obs.),
(Univ. Alaska Anchorage)