Last Updated 04 Jan 2023

Understanding What A Nebula Is On Example Of The Orion Nebula

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To fully understand what a nebula is and the useful function that they provide you must first understand the structure and build of the object. The research done in this essay takes you through all the steps starting with the foundational concept of the chemical makeup of what makes a nebula a nebula. Followed by process used to take useful data that would lay the foundation for the chemical structures of many nebula to follow. After words the next body takes you through the molecular cloud complex of the famous Orion nebula and gives you useful information about and how this single nebula is one of the most active solar nurseries, nearest to our own galaxy. The final body paragraph will explain and give the reader knowledge and insight to the Orion nebula after reading this last section you should have a vast take away of one of the most stunning Nebula available to you.

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General Chemical Makeup of A Nebula

In order to understand how nebulas form, you must first understand the anatomy of what they are actually made out of. The first step to understanding the makeup of nebulas is to use a scientific device known as a spectrometer “An apparatus used for recording, and measuring spectrum, especially as a method of analysis” (“Spectrometer.”,, Nebulas, being distant clouds of gas with no physical ground to land on, provides a challenge for scientist to collect important data on the composures of what makes a nebula a nebula; this is where the instrument of a spectrometer comes in handy. “The incident light from the light source can be transmitted, absorbed or reflected through the sample; The changes occurred during the interaction of incident light with the sample reveals the sample characteristics” (Walker, Kris. “Spectrometer Technology and Applications.”,, 1 Aug. 2017, Spectrometer results of the Orion nebula reveal that the structure is composed of densely distributed material of mostly hydrogen, helium, and some plasma as well.

Depending on the type of nebula they all form in different ways, for instance when gravity begins to pull the hydrogen, helium, and stellar dust together and over a period of time the tightly packed material will generate a nebula. Another way nebula form is after a super nova. A supernova only occurs in two scenarios, the first being a degenerate star suddenly begin nuclear fusion once more. Usually the culprit that causes the first scenario to take place is a white dwarf collecting a satisfactory amount of energy from a binary companion to increase its core temperature causing a reaction known as runaway nuclear fusion causing devastation to the star. the second scenario is the collapse of the core of a massive star due to its energy output not being able to combat the force of gravity pushing back on the core of a star. As stated above when the core of a massive star can no longer resist the forces of gravity upon its core, the result is a sudden outburst of potential energy shooting from the core causing an explosion known as a super nova. The second scenario in a scientist aspect is a far more exciting and an explosive ending of a star’s life.

This reaction is very important to stellar formation as it replenishes the material needed for star formation into the interstellar median. The last way a nebula can form is from the transition of a red dwarf star to a white dwarf the end result of this process is either a black hole or neutron star are formed. When red dwarfs run out of hydrogen to fuse they either have enough nuclear energy depending on the size or not to combat the force of gravity causing the star to contract; when this happens the core begins to heat up beginning the process of helium fusion. When the process begins pressure starts to push causing the star to expand; the downfall of the star is now becoming more prominate as the temperature begins to decrease causing the star to glow redder and redder.

At this point a process known as helium flash starts to take place causing the helium stored inside the star to begin to fuse, the process takes anywhere from several. Minutes to a few hours but the definite time frame varies depending on several variables. As the star quickly starts fussing whatever elements are available to combat the gravitational collapse until there is nothing left to fuse within the star its self; depending on the size of the star determines its faith. If the remains are less then 1.4 solar masses of the sun it will become a white dwarf star, if it is greater than 1.4 solar masses of the sun than either the star will become a neutron star or a black hole even.

The Orion Nebula Cloud Complex

The Orion nebula is considered a star-forming region, a class of emission nebula know for giant molecular clouds. The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex is a star-forming region with two colossal molecular clouds designated Orion A and Orion B. Stars found within the complexes are still forming but there are many older stars not part of the complex any longer, one specific group of stars that comes to mind with this specific nebula would be the ones making up the silhouette of Orion’s belt. Scientist believe that the Orion Complex “is one of the most productive provinces of stellar formation noticeable in are local solar system; where both protoplanetary discs and very young stars can be found” (Gergesene, Erik. The Milky Way and beyond: Stars, Nebulae, and Other Galaxies. Britannica Educational Pub., 2010.). This Nebula is unique as well as the complex contains inside dark nebula, emission nebula, and reflective nebula as well.

Getting To Know The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula or Messier 42 is a diffuse nebula located south in the sword of the hunter Orion in the constellation of Orion with a visible magnitude of about + 4.0 nebula is 1,350 light years from earth and consist of hundreds of very young O-type stars at the heart of the nebula lies four massive stars known as the Trapezium. The Trapezium is very unique as it’s an open star cluster located in the heart of a nebula which results in most of the illumination around the nebula. According to NASA “Ultraviolent light unleashed by these stars is carving a cavity in the nebula and disrupting the growth of hundreds of smaller stars” (Garner, Rob. “Messier 42 (The Orion Nebula).” NASA, NASA, 6 Oct. 2017, “It was discovered in 1618 by the French scholar Nicolas- Claude Fabri de Peiresc and independently in 1618 by the Swiss astronomer Johann Cyst” (Gergesene, Erik.

The Milky Way and beyond: Stars, Nebulae, and Other Galaxies. Britannica Educational Pub., 2010.), Furthermore in 1880 it was the first nebula to ever be photographed by Henry Draper. With advances in technology in the 1980s scientist were able to take the inferred spectroscopy of the Orion nebula and made several discoveries; the most important being a jet related to the birth of young stars. It is believed by scientist that these rich areas of gas, dust, and other material aids as a nursery so to speak for star formation; later in the process, the remaining material will eventually lead to planetary birth as well. There is evidence already pointing to early planetary formation as astronomers are already seeing young stars with debree disk already around them. visible to the naked eye the Orion Nebula is often a first deep space object for amateurs, but don’t be fooled it is also a site for professional astronomers as well. With the aid of 10 by 50 binoculars or a small telescope, the viewer is rewarded with great detail of the swirling gas and glistening stars in this nebula.

Other Nebula types

Vastly different from the Orion nebula is M1 or the Crab Nebula, located in the arm of Perseus with an apparent magnitude of just over +8.4. The reason I chose to use this nebula as topic on this paper was to show the importance of this nebula as it was the first recorded supernova remnant associated with an explosion.


Clearly, after reading this paper, you should know about the different categories of nebula discovered in are vastly infinite solar system; as well as the vastly different ways these beautiful objects come to fruition. Furthermore, you should also have a new prospective not only about the Orion nebula but many more nebulas out there like this one. I hope that you enjoyed this paper as much as I did writing it as I feel knowledge to new concepts is not only a very satisfying takeaway in my eyes, but opening other eyes as well is more important as well. So, I leave you with this final note I hope after reading this paper you can tell someone else about the formation of nebulas, molecular clouds, the locations at which stars are born, and finally new facts about the Orion nebula you can pass on to other so they can enjoy it just as much as I did.

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