Credit: C.R. O’Dell (Rice University), and ESA/Hubble & NASA

A storm of starbirth brews inside the Orion Nebula in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the heart of the most famous star-making nebulae, M42. What stories or shapes do you see in this star cloud? Let your imagination roam and share a note below.

The Orion Nebula is visible in the northern hemisphere sky right now, riding high in the south just after sunset. You can find it just below the three stars that mark Orion’s Belt. It’s the fuzzy spot, the middle star in the sword of Orion. In binoculars, the nebula is obvious.

This image only covers the heart of the Orion Nebula. Stars here are being born constantly. Planetary systems like our solar system may be forming out of the gas and dust left over from a star’s birth. With searing wind and ultraviolet light, the new stars blast away material after they are born. The ultraviolet light from these newborns causes the surrounding nebula to glow.

Located about 1,500 light years away, the massive nebula is one of the closest regions of star formation from Earth. A starship cruising at the speed of light, or 6 trillion miles per year, would take more than 24 years to cross the Great Nebula. But the entire nebula is much larger including the Horsehead Nebula and the Flame Nebula.