New view of Horsehead Nebula:

Ethereal wisps of gas and space dust

Horsehead Nebula

Researchers at the Hubble Space Telescope have released a new look at the Horsehead Nebula taken using infrared light. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) / April 19, 2013

By Deborah Netburn

April 19, 2013 2:49 p.m.

Giant wispy clouds of gas and space dust rise to heights of 5-light years "tall" in this new image
of the Horsehead Nebula that comes to us courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Horsehead Nebula is 1,300 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Orion.
It was first discovered in 1888, and because it is so iconic and picturesque,
it has been a favorite of professional and amateur astronomers a like.

When photographed using visible light, the nebula looks distinctively like the knight piece
in a chess set--hence the name "horsehead."

But that horsey resemblance is harder to see in the recently released image above.

That's because this new image was taken using infrared light,
which has a longer wave length than visible light,
and can penetrate deeper in the gas cloud, revealing more detail about the nebula's structure.

Where the visible light images of the Horsehead Nebula reveal a dark
and mostly opaque horse head figure, this infrared image makes the nebula look more wispy
and ethereal--like something from a space dream. 

And just like a real dream, this Horsehead Nebula is impermanent.

Radiation from a nearby star is slowly eroding this nebula,
and astronomers estimate that within 5 million years it will disintegrate entirely.

The release of the photo marks Hubble's 23rd anniversary of taking images from space
and beaming them back to Earth.

Horsehead and Flame Nebula video (by conventional picture with movie effect)
(WM Note: Just imagine you are approaching the Horsehead Nebula in a space ship !!)

Horsehead Nebula in Orion Constellation (conventional light telescopic picture)
The round-shaped with tree-like dark streaks, in front of the "Horsehead" is the "Flame Nebula."

Note: The location of the Horsehead Nebula in Orion Constellation


The European "Herschel Telescope" sees the sky at far-infrared wavelengths,
revealing the vigorous star-forming activity taking place in the Constellation Orion.
Please look at the "Horsehead Nebula" in the right side of the picture.

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