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NASA shared some interstellar fireworks to end 2020. The Orion Nebula resembles a rainbow-colored painting filled with dots of light.

NASA shared some interstellar fireworks to end 2020. The Orion Nebula resembles a rainbow-colored painting filled with dots of light.

Composite image of the Orion Nebula, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. NASA / JPL-Caltech STScI
  • NASA’s latest “photo of the day” for 2020 depicts the Orion Nebula, located 1,500 light-years from Earth.

  • The Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes capture the stunning and colorful image.

  • Nebulae are giant clouds of gas and dust where new stars are born.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA decided to share some interstellar fireworks to end an unforgettable year.

Agency posts “today’s picture” Every day, the final image of 2020 did not disappoint.

Color panel, NASA Today’s Dec. 31 photo depicts a composite image of The Orion Nebula, Captured by Hubble Space And Spitzer Space Telescopes.

It is located more than 1,500 light years from Earth.

Nebulae like these are interstellar nurseries – gigantic clouds of gas and dust in space that incubate smaller stars as they are born. Some nebulae form as stars die: When the star’s core cools, it begins to shed its outer layers, which disperse to form gas clouds.

Rainbow cloth

To the naked eye, nebulae will not, in fact, look like rainbow paintings filled with points of light (which usually appear to form new stars).

Cepheus Nebula
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured two nebulae, or clouds of gas and dust. On the left, small stars (red and yellow dots) are born in a dark expanse of the nebula. NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory- California Institute of Technology

When space telescopes like Hubble visualize hydrogen, sulfur and carbon particles that form nebulae like Orion, They do not pick up color. Instead, Hubble records particles of light, which NASA can then see through various filters that allow only certain wavelengths of color. Then they assign a color to the particles that come through those filters (the light that comes through the red filter is set to red, for example).

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The Helix Nebula
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this image of the Helix Nebula, which is located in the constellation Aquarius about 700 light-years from Earth. NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory- California Institute of Technology / University. Arizona State

By combining the images of the same nebula that are projected with different filters, the agency can create a color composite image like the one shown above.

“We often use color as a tool, whether it’s to enhance the details of an object or to visualize what the human eye would not normally see,” NASA said.

Almost there 3000 nebulae In our galaxy.

The closest known nebula to our planet is the Spiral Nebula, the cosmic remnant of a dying star. About Half the distance from the ground Like the Orion Nebula – 700 light-years (so if you travel at the speed of light, it would take 700 years to get there).

The Hubble Space Telescope was photographing the nebulae For 30 yearsThese images help scientists learn more about how these cosmic clouds evolved, or even Dim and shrink, over time.

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