The hidden fires of the Flame Nebula*

This image, the first to be released publicly from VISTA, the world’s largest survey telescope, shows the spectacular star-forming region known as the Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter) and its surroundings. In views of this evocative object in visible light the core of the nebula is completely hidden behind obscuring dust, but in this VISTA view, taken in infrared light, the cluster of very young stars at the object’s heart is revealed. The wide-field VISTA view also includes the glow of the reflection nebula NGC 2023, just below centre, and the ghostly outline of the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) towards the lower right. The bright bluish star towards the right is one of the three bright stars forming the Belt of Orion. The image was created from VISTA images taken through J, H and Ks filters in the near-infrared part of the spectrum. The image shows about half the area of the full VISTA field and is about 40 x 50 arcminutes in extent. The total exposure time was 14 minutes.

This image is available as a mounted image in the ESOshop.



ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

About the Image

Release date:11 December 2009, 11:30
Related releases:eso0949
Size:7546 x 9233 px

About the Object

Name:Flame Nebula, NGC 2024
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Star Formation
Distance:1500 light years

Image Formats

Large JPEG
20.3 MB
Screensize JPEG
342.3 KB



249.8 KB
391.1 KB
546.3 KB
643.1 KB
866.5 KB


Position (RA):5 41 42.73
Position (Dec):-1° 54' 44.18"
Field of view:42.92 x 52.52 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 10.0° left of vertical