Published: June 12, 2016

Looking up at the sky on a dark, moonless night may seem peaceful with the thousands of twinkling gas giants scattering across the sky, but if you take a closer look, the universe is a very chaotic and violent place. Focusing in on the constellation Orion, this group of stars can most easily be seen in the winter sky. It is most recognizable by the iconic three stars which make up his belt, and can be seen in the south-western sky today after dusk.

Only by looking through telescopes, can you see the constructive beauty of the nursery under Orion’s belt. Much as a nursery holds youth in today’s hospitals, this nursery is the birthplace of many new baby stars. As the universe ages, stars live and die. Some stars explode when they die and eventually form a giant gas cloud of Hydrogen and Helium. This cloud is gravitationally influenced by the other stars in the area, which creates a spinning, vortex effect. As the cloud spins and condenses, micro vortexes, which look like whirlpools, spin off in every direction, heating up as they collapse. Due to the immense amount of compacting and heat that is generated from the gravitational pull, thermonuclear fusion ignites and a star is born!

Because this gas cloud is nearly 2,000 times the mass of our own sun and spans 20 light years, more than 600 newborns have been created. This does, however, create a very violent scene as each of these new stars is attracting one another.  These stars create solar winds from their thermonuclear processes that help shape the stellar nursery. Unlike hospital nurseries, these babies are competing against one another for gaseous elements to nurture themselves.