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Nebula

Where are the nearest star-forming sites to our Solar System?

Nebula

Nebula

The closest bright star-forming nebula to Earth is the much-studied Great Orion Nebula – located about 1,350 light years away – but there are plenty of other, fainter starbirth regions closer to our Solar System.

The closest known group of young stars is the TW Hydrae association, whose 30-plus members lie 175 light years away in the constellation of Hydra (the water snake). At roughly 5 million years old, several of these stars are still growing by pulling in gas and dust from their surroundings.

A number of full-blown starbirth nebulas lie around 500 light years away in southern hemisphere constellations, such as Chamaeleon and Corona Australis. They appear dark as they are only generating low-mass, Sun-like stars; they lack the high-mass giants whose brilliant radiation lights up brighter nebulas like Orion.

Answered by Giles Sparrow.