Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left)
along the diagonal in this gorgeous cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue
supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away,
born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region
have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula
near Alnitak at the lower right. The famous Orion Nebula itself is off the right edge of this colorful
star field. The well-framed, wide-field telescopic image spans about 6 degrees on the sky.
[Text adapted from APOD]