Changing Planet

Photo: Hubble Snaps Stunning View of Iconic Nebula

The Hubble space telescope’s infrared camera provides a new look to the famous Horsehead nebula. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

In honor of its launch 23 years ago the Hubble Space Telescope snapped a breathtaking, never-before-seen view of one of the most photogenic cosmic vistas in the night sky.

Dubbed the Horsehead nebula because of its obvious resemblance to a steed or chess piece in profile,  this dark cloud of gas and dust sits 1,500 light years from Earth in the winter constellation Orion and has been a favorite target for generations of backyard stargazers.

Now thanks to the Hubble’s  infrared vision of its high-resolution Wide Field Camera,  we finally get to lift the veil of gas and dust covering a nursery of newborn stars buried within the nebula.

In this new portrait, the nebula’s  normally shadowy facade seen in optical light,  now appears in infrared light to be transparent, and lit up against a backdrop of more distant bright nebulae and star clusters scattered in our Milky Way galaxy.

The wispy outline along the outer ridge of this distinctively shaped pillar of hydrogen gas and dust glows due to a nearby, hot, young five star system lying just off the frame.

Astronomers believe that the radiation from these same stars that showcase the Horsehead today will eventually kill it off- evaporating it over time. But no need to worry since astronomers estimate that will be about 5 million years before it completely disappears from our skies.

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • http://stanito.com

    So beautiful…

  • http://stanito.com

    So beautiful…

  • Pete

    Cosmic warming.

  • Pete

    Cosmic warming.

  • cam matteoni

    i love national geographic, this gave me a boner

  • cam matteoni

    i love national geographic, this gave me a boner

  • left

    I wanna go there sometimes.

  • left

    I wanna go there sometimes.

  • smeagol

    OMG amazing

  • smeagol

    OMG amazing

  • Christian Duerig

    How much more do we know today thanks to Hubble. I want to know more because of Hubble. What will be after Hubble ? I start to think. Whenn wil I see ?
    Many thanks to NASA

  • Christian Duerig

    How much more do we know today thanks to Hubble. I want to know more because of Hubble. What will be after Hubble ? I start to think. Whenn wil I see ?
    Many thanks to NASA

  • Adrianna

    Love it so awesome. Beautiful.

  • Adrianna

    Love it so awesome. Beautiful.

  • Yener

    Nice image…

  • Yener

    Nice image…

  • Jacki

    The definition of awesome!

  • Jacki

    The definition of awesome!

  • lisa bussey

    a deep look into space and stars we are so lucky that we can see these things now what will it be like in the next ten years

  • lisa bussey

    a deep look into space and stars we are so lucky that we can see these things now what will it be like in the next ten years

  • lisa bussey

    a deep look into space and stars we are so lucky that we can see these things now what will it be like in the next ten years and will we be looking at

  • lisa bussey

    a deep look into space and stars we are so lucky that we can see these things now what will it be like in the next ten years and will we be looking at

  • Debasish Mallick

    Redefining BEAUTY ….

  • Debasish Mallick

    Redefining BEAUTY ….

  • Rekha

    so beautiful

  • Rekha

    so beautiful

  • Mark l

    Look below the wave cloud on top to middle of pic it looks like face of Jesus , just saying ..

  • siddhant

    Its amazing AWESOME

  • siddhant

    Its amazing AWESOME

  • K. S. Parihar

    its really very nice. we can’t imagine this kind of pic….

  • K. S. Parihar

    its really very nice. we can’t imagine this kind of pic….

  • Pralay Prasanna Dalal Chowdhury

    The great womb of ours

  • Pralay Prasanna Dalal Chowdhury

    The great womb of ours

  • Mohd. Iqbal Abdul Sattar

    Breathtakingly awsome

  • Mohd. Iqbal Abdul Sattar

    Breathtakingly awsome

  • rahul rawat

    grate

  • rahul rawat

    grate

  • Md Jamil Asghar

    It’s how nice and beautiful creation of Almighty Allah, thanks a lot to HUBBLE and NASA who made a deeply look into the nature.We expect a lot of discovery by the next generation of Hubble in very near future.

  • Md Jamil Asghar

    It’s how nice and beautiful creation of Almighty Allah, thanks a lot to HUBBLE and NASA who made a deeply look into the nature.We expect a lot of discovery by the next generation of Hubble in very near future.

  • RANGAN CHATTERJEE

    WOW ! IT’S AMAZING, AWESOME, MAGNIFICENT…

  • RANGAN CHATTERJEE

    WOW ! IT’S AMAZING, AWESOME, MAGNIFICENT…

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