The Universe within 5000 Light Years
The Orion Arm

The Orion Arm
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* Number of stars within 5000 light years = 600 million

About the Map

This is a map of our corner of the Milky Way galaxy. The Sun is located in the Orion Arm - a fairly minor arm compared with the Sagittarius Arm, which is located closer to the galactic centre. The map shows several stars visible with the naked eye which are located deep within the Orion arm. The most notable group of stars here are main stars in the constellation of Orion - from which the spiral arm gets its name. All of these stars are bright giant and supergiant stars, thousands of times more luminous than the Sun. The most luminous star on the map is Rho Cassiopeia (ρ Cas) - to us 4000 light years away, it is a dim naked eye star, but in reality it is a huge supergiant star 100 000 times more luminous than our Sun.

Additional Maps
A Map of the Orion Arm This is a plot of all of the most luminous stars within 2000 light years together with most of the major star clusters and nebulae within this distance.
A Map of clusters and nebulae Here is a map of all the major star clusters and nebulae that lie within 10000 light years.
Data and Catalogs
A list of bright nebulae Many bright nebular regions are known in our galaxy. They are usually the birthplaces of stars. Here is a list of many of the more well known nebulae.
A list of planetary nebulae These nebulae are the remnants of dying stars. They are called planetary nebulae because the are often circular. This is a list of the brighter planetary nebulae.
A list of dark nebulae Not all nebulae glow brightly. Most nebulae are dark concentrations of dust only visible if they block out the light of stars that lie behind them. This is a list of a few of the more noticible dark nebulae.
A list of open clusters Many stars are formed in tight groups of hundreds of stars known as open clusters. Thousands are known in our galaxy, the Pleiades are the most famous example. Here is a list of the brighter open clusters.

Some Bright Nebulae

The Heart and Soul Nebulae
The Heart and Soul Nebulae Located in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy, the Heart and Soul Nebulae are located in a region of active star formation containing many young clusters of stars.
The California Nebula
The California Nebula This is a bright emission nebula which supposedly looks like the shape of the state of California (but is about 1 trillion times longer). This nebula glows because of the intense radiation from the star Xi Persei.
The Orion Nebula
The Orion Nebula This is probably the most famous nebula in the sky - it can be dimly seen with the naked eye, and can be viewed from any latitude on Earth except the North Pole. The Orion nebula lies in the middle of an intense region of star formation.
The Rosette Nebula
The Rosette Nebula The Rosette nebula is a circular nebula surrounding a young star cluster. The intense radiation from the young stars has cleared a hole in the centre of the nebula.
The Cone Nebula
The Cone Nebula This is another nebula surrouding a young cluster of stars including the fifth magnitude variable star S Monocerotis. Nearby is a dark cone-shaped lane of dust which gives this nebula its name.
The Eta Carinae Nebula
The Eta Carina Nebula This is a bright nebula in southern hemisphere skies which can be glimpsed with the naked eye. The Eta Carinae nebula is a massive region of star formation in the Sagittarius arm of the Galaxy, and it surrounds the extremly massive star Eta Carinae.
NGC 3576, 3579, 3581, 3582, 3584 and 3586
NGC 3576, 3579, 3581, 3582, 3584 and 3586 Although it has six separate catalogue numbers, this is in fact a single nebula in the Sagittarius arm and another region of star formation.
The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae
The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae These are two bright nebulae in the Sagittarius Arm of the Galaxy. The Lagoon nebula is one of the brightest nebulae in the sky and it can be seen with the naked eye. The Trifid nebula is close to the Lagoon nebula although it is slightly smaller and dimmer.
The Eagle and Omega Nebulae
The Eagle Nebula The Eagle and Omega nebulae are another pair of bright nebulae in the Sagittarius Arm where many stars are being born. The Hubble Space telescope photographed the Eagle nebula in 1995 and produced one of the most famous astronomy pictures of recent times.
The Gamma Cygni Nebula
The Gamma Cygni Nebula This is a faint but extensive nebula which can be found in the middle of the constellation of Cygnus. This region of the sky looks directly down Orion Arm of our Galaxy and there are a lot of nebulae in and around this region.
The North America and Pelican Nebulae
The North America Nebula These two nebulae in Cygnus are the brightest part of a very complex region of nebulae in Cygnus lying about 2000 light years away in the Orion Arm of the Galaxy.

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