MUSE views the Orion Nebula

This video sequence shows how the new MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope gives a three-dimensional depiction of the Orion Nebula. For each part of this spectacular star formation region the light has been split up into its component colours — revealing in detail the chemical and physical properties of each pixel.

During the subsequent analysis the astronomer can move through the data and study different views of the object at different wavelengths, just like tuning a television to different channels at different frequencies.

This picture is based on a mosaic of many MUSE datasets that were obtained soon after the instrument achieved first light in early 2014. In just 2.5 hours of observation 2.7 million spectra were obtained — a remarkable rate of 300 spectra per second. The total dataset contains 11 billion pixels.

To make a colour picture view three different regions of the spectrum were selected — as indicated as slices from the datacube — to collapse the data down into a single colour image seen at the end. Although this is impressive it is only a tiny fraction of the information in the full MUSE three-dimensional dataset.


ESO/MUSE consortium/R. Bacon/L. Calçada

About the Video

Release date:5 March 2014, 12:00
Related releases:eso1407
Duration:29 s
Frame rate:30 fps

About the Object

Name:M 42, Messier 42, MUSE, Orion Nebula
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Star Formation

Ultra HD (info)



Large QT
5.1 MB


Video Podcast
3.6 MB
Medium MPEG-1
14.3 MB
Medium Flash
5.1 MB


Small Flash
1.9 MB
Small QT
1.2 MB

For Broadcasters