In the night sky: Orion
In the night sky: Orion

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022, 20:04
Site: Open Learning
Course: In the night sky: Orion (INS_1)
Glossary: Orion Glossary


The name given to a theory that describes the behaviour of the Universe at times between about 10-35 s and 10-32 s after the big bang. During this interval it is proposed that distances within the Universe increased by an extraordinarily huge factor. Inflation predicts that we live in a spatially flat universe.

interstellar medium

The very thin gas and tiny specks of dust that lie between the stars.

iron group

A subset of heavy metallic elements, such as iron, chromium and nickel that are the endpoints of nuclear fusion reactions in massive stars.


Atoms with the same number of protons in their nuclei but different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Because they have the same number of protons, they have the same atomic number and are atoms of the same chemical element. But because of the different number of neutrons, they differ in mass number.


Kuiper Belt

The region of the Solar System, beyond the orbit of Neptune, containing many icy-rocky bodies, including dwarf planets (such as Pluto) with relatively low inclination orbits. The Kuiper Belt is sometimes called the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt and is a sub-set of trans-Neptunian objects.


Local Group

The grouping of galaxies in the neighbourhood of our galaxy. It contains about 40 known galaxies including the Milky Way and all the other galaxies within about three or four million light years.

local supercluster

The supercluster of galaxies centred on the rich Virgo cluster of galaxies and including the Local Group as an outlying constituent.


The amount of power emitted by a luminous object such as a star or galaxy, in the form of light or other electromagnetic radiation. It is related to the observed brightness of an object by the relationship: luminosity is proportional to brightness multiplied by distance squared. Luminosity may be measured in the unit of watts.


magnitude scale

An historical, logarithmic scale devised to represent the observed brightness of astronomical objects such as stars.

main sequence

The portion of the lifetime of a star during which it produces energy via the fusion of hydrogen to helium in its core. A star will remain on the Main Seqeunce for the majority of its total lifetime.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371