Posts Tagged ‘horsehead nebula’

Smoky Horse

NASA/ESA Hubble

A smoky horse rises from a pink cloud of hydrogen gas in this spectacular new image of the Horseahd Nebula from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Zoom in and explore this dark pillar of dust. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

The Horsehead Nebula is one of the most easily recognized nebula in the sky. Identified in 1888 by Williamina Fleming, its swirling shape resembles a horse’s head when viewed from Earth. Even in a telescope, the emission nebula is hard to see. Fleming identified the nebula using photographic plates taken at the Harvard College Observatory.

The vast interstellar cloud of dust is found just south of the star Alnitak, the most eastern star in Orion’s belt. The pillar of dust and gas, found about 1,500 light-years from Earth, collapsed from the even larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The clumps of material reflect light from the nearby hot star Sigma Orionis.

Usually the Horsehead Nebula is shown as a dark pillar against a bright pink background. The pink nebula is being energized by young, hot stars deep in the nebula. Ultraviolet radiation streaming from these stars causes hydrogen gas in the the nebula to glow pink and red. For this image, Hubble shows this area in infrared light. Infrared is a longer wavelength of light than visible light. We feel infrared light as heat. By using this kind of light, Hubble can pierce the dusty outer layers of the nebula and see deeper, revealing ghostly swirls and delicate folds of gas.

The image also reveals hundreds of faraway galaxies glowing with their own warm light. Pan around to find these stunning gems.

Scientists released this new image of the Horsehead Nebula to celebrate Hubble’s 23rd year in orbit.

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Flame of Orion

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

A flame burns in the Belt of Orion in this image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

Explore the vast swath of sky covered in this image. It takes light nine years for a beam of light to cross the sprawling nebula. From Horsehead Nebula near the bottom to Orion B, WISE shows us the vast glowing gas of the area near the Orion Nebula. What shapes and stories can you tell about the Flame Nebula? Perhaps you see a flower or a jellyfish. Leave a comment below.

Although astronomers on Earth called it the Flame Nebula, the nebula glows because of the bright light of Altinak, bright blue star just to the right of center in the image. Altinak is the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion. WISE’s infrared eyes see clearly the dust warmed by Altinak’s searing radiation. The radiation coming from the star also heats the gas of the Flame Nebula, also known as Orion B or NGC 2024, enough so it can be seen in visible light.

Moving down the column of gas and dust, we come to a bright bubble in the middle. This reflection nebula is NGC 2023. The nebula is reflecting the visible light from nearby stars. Just below this nebula is a faint bump in the column of gas and dust. In visible light, we know this bump as the dramatic Horsehead Nebula. The Horsehead Nebula’s dense cloud blocks all light shining from stars behind it, highlighting the well known shape in silhouette. But WISE sees the glow of the entire cloud.

The Flame Nebula, NGC 2023, and the Horsehead Nebula are located about 1,500 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Orion, the Hunter.

WISE launched in December 2009 to study asteroids, cool stars and the universe’s most luminous galaxies.

A Horse in the Sky

Image Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: K. Noll (Hubble Heritage PI/STScI), C. Luginbuhl (USNO), F. Hamilton (Hubble Heritage/STScI)

Like a giant horse sticking his head up from a ocean of dust and gas, the Horsehead Nebula is one of the most recognized objects in the sky. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took this closeup image in April 2001. We cannot see it with our eyes, but the nebula is in the constellation of Orion, the hunter. It lies just south of Zeta Orionis, the left hand star in Orion’s belt.

Credit & Copyright:  Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF

Credit & Copyright: Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF

The nebula gets its name from its overall horse head shape when viewed in telescopes on Earth.

The nebula, also known as Barnard 33, was first discovered on a photographic plate taken in the late 1800s. It’s horse head shape is only by chance and contains a nursery for young stars. One day this nebula will be home to hundreds of new stars.

http://www.eso.org/gallery/v/ESOPIA/Nebulae/phot-26a-09-hires.tif.htmlThe

 

Intense Flames

Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA.

What looks like a flame, or a cosmic jellyfish, is seen shooting out of the rich star-forming region of the Flame Nebula. Also known as NGC 2024, the Flame Nebula shows a bright group of stars lighting up the region with the core completely hidden behind a pillar of dust. Intense ultraviolet light and strong winds come from bright, new stars deep in the heart of the Flame Nebula. The ultraviolet light excites atoms inside the nebula causing it to glow. Usually we see great images like this from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. This image comes to us from the giant, 4.1-meter VISTA telescope, the world’s largest survey telescope.

Similar to the Great Nebula in Orion, the Flame Nebula is an emission nebula. And it’s found in the same part of the sky as the Orion Nebula. The bright star to the right is the blue supergiant Alnitak. Also known as Zeta Orionis, Alnitak is the left-most star, to northern hemisphere observers, in the belt of Orion.

Explore the image. Can you pick out the familiar Horsehead Nebula? You should be able to spot the ghostly outline of the very familiar reflection nebula in the lower left. It’s not how we usually see it. The image was taken in visible light to near-infrared. Near-infrared is just below what the human eye can see.

A Horse in the Sky

Image Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: K. Noll (Hubble Heritage PI/STScI), C. Luginbuhl (USNO), F. Hamilton (Hubble Heritage/STScI)

Like a giant horse sticking his head up from a ocean of dust and gas, the Horsehead Nebula is one of the most recognized objects in the sky. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took this closeup image in April 2001. We cannot see it with our eyes, but the nebula is in the constellation of Orion, the hunter. It lies just south of Zeta Orionis, the left hand star in Orion’s belt.

Credit & Copyright:  Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF

Credit & Copyright: Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF

The nebula gets its name from its overall horse head shape when viewed in telescopes on Earth.

The nebula, also known as Barnard 33, was first discovered on a photographic plate taken in the late 1800s. It’s horse head shape is only by chance and contains a nursery for young stars. One day this nebula will be home to hundreds of new stars.

http://www.eso.org/gallery/v/ESOPIA/Nebulae/phot-26a-09-hires.tif.htmlThe

 

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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