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Orion's 'Red Fiery Ribbon' Is Beautiful Trail Of Glowing Interstellar Dust (PICTURES)

16/05/2013 10:31 BST | Updated 16/05/2013 13:30 BST

The constellation of Orion is one of the most recognisable in the night sky, but new photos show a dramatic red trail of interstellar dust behind its belt.

The "fiery ribbon" phenomenon is actually light emitted from the dust at frequencies too long to be seen by the naked eye.

Fortunately for us the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile is more than up to the task.

orion red fiery ribbon

The red areas are around 10 degrees Kelvin

Run by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), APEX can peer past the dust and into the clouds to observe the processes that eventually lead to the birth of new stars.

The bright cloud in the top-right of the image can be seen ny the naked eye and forms the "fuzzy middle star" of Orion's sword.

The entire region, 1350 light-years away from Earth, is a giant star-forming region, the closest one to Earth.

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