Trapezium

Trapezium Cluster in the Orion Nebula

Trapezium


Infrared photograph by Mark McCaughrean: copyright Mark McCaughrean / European Southern Observatory 2001


The group of bright stars at the center of this image is the Trapezium Cluster, which lies at the heart of the Orion Nebula. This is one of the closest major star-forming regions to the Solar System, located at a distance of about 415 parsecs (1350 light years; Menten 2007). The Trapezium is one small section of the larger nebula, comprising the most active region of star formation. Although it is best known for its 4 brightest star systems, which seem to form a distorted trapezoid from the perspective of the Solar System, the Trapezium actually contains about 700 newborn stars, each about 1 million years old. They are packed into a volume of space about one light year (0.3 parsecs) in diameter (Lada & Lada 2003). See also Theta Orionis: The Trapezium, by Jerry Lodigruss.

For other nearby star-forming regions in the Milky Way, see the pages on the Gould Belt.