The Orion Nebula (also known as M42 or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula lying about 1350 light years away. It is a very active stellar nursery where new stars are being formed. Approximately 700 stars in varying stages of development have been noted within the nebula. Recent observations by the Hubble Space Telescope reveal the presence of more than 150 protoplanetary disks called proplyds within the nebula. These are thought to be very early solar systems.
Also appeared on “Starship Asterisk,” the main discussion venue for the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) January 15, 2015.
Also appeared at http://www.astronomy.com/photos/picture-of-day December 19, 2016
Also appeared in Astronomy Magazine http://www.astronomy.com/ February, 2017