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Orion Molecular Cloud Complex

The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex (or, simply, the Orion Complex) is a large group of bright nebulae, dark clouds, and young stars in the Orion constellation. The cloud is between 1 500 and 1 600 light-years away, and hundreds of light-years across. Several parts of the nebula can be observed through binoculars and small telescopes, and some parts (such as the Orion Nebula) are visible to the naked eye.

Orion Molecular Cloud Complex
Molecular cloud
Molecular cloud complex
Orion Head to Toe.jpg
Part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, with the Great Nebula in Orion near the center, along with the Belt of Orion, and Barnard's Loop curling around the image
Observation data: J2000.0[1] epoch
Right ascension 05h 35.3m[1]
Declination −05° 23′[1]
Constellation Orion
Designations Orion Complex, Orion Cloud Complex, Orion Molecular Cloud Complex
See also: Lists of nebulae

The nebula is important because of its sheer size, as it spreads several degrees from Orion's Belt to his sword. It is also one of the most active regions of stellar formation visible in the night sky, and is home to both protoplanetary discs and very young stars. The nebula is bright in infrared wavelengths due to the heat-intensive processes involved in the stellar formation, though the complex contains dark nebulae, emission nebulae, reflection nebulae, and H II regions. The presence of ripples on the surface of Orion's Molecular Cloud have been discovered recently. The ripples result from the expansion of the nebulae gas over pre-existing molecular gas.[2]


Nebulae within the complexEdit

A picture of Barnard's Loop—a primary component of the nebula complex. Also seen in the image are the locations of other nebulae in the complex such as M42.

The following is a list of notable nebulae within the larger nebula complex:

Also the Orion OB1 Association is part of this complex.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "NAME ORI COMPLEX -- Cloud". SIMBAD. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  2. ^ Berné, Olivier; Marcelino, Núria; Cernicharo, José. "Waves on the surface of the Orion molecular cloud". Nature. 466 (7309): 947–949. arXiv:1011.0295 . Bibcode:2010Natur.466..947B. doi:10.1038/nature09289. 
  3. ^ "NAME ORI MOL CLOUD -- Molecular Cloud". SIMBAD. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  4. ^ "Orion's Big Head Revealed in Infrared". Nasa. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 

External linksEdit