Orion Nebula Closer to Us

Famous stellar nursery 300 light-years nearer to Earth than thought

By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User

Posted Oct 11, 2007 9:12 PM CDT

(Newser) – The famed Orion Nebula is the closest stellar nursery to Earth, and it's even nearer than scientists previously thought, a study finds. Researchers had pinned it at about 1,565 light years away 25 years ago, but using multiple telescope shots to create a "virtual telescope" as wide as the Earth itself reveals it's 10 to 20% closer. Those numbers are already being refined, Discovery Channel reports.

Berkeley astronomer Geoff Bower tapped the Very Long Baseline Array radio telescopes to gauge distance using parallax view, the same way our eyes do. One "eye" is in Hawaii, the other in the Caribbean. Bower found the nebula to be 1,270 light-years away, with a 76 light-year margin of error. Another team using the same methods measured 1,350 light years between the cluster and Earth.

This series of screen captures, supplied by NASA, shows the capabilities of the Sky in Google Earth software just released that allows users to peruse stars and constellations and even find their favorite...   (Associated Press)
The Orion Nebula
The Orion Nebula
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