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Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color
Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color

Unlike other celestial objects there is no question how the Horsehead Nebula got its name. This well-known silhouette of a horse's head and neck pokes up mysteriously from what look like whitecaps of interstellar foam. The nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery over a century ago. But Hubble's infrared vision shows the horse in a new light. The nebula, shadowy in optical light, appears transparent and ethereal when seen at infrared wavelengths. This pillar of tenuous hydrogen gas laced with dust is resisting being eroded away by the radiation from a nearby star. The nebula is a small part of a vast star-forming complex in the constellation Orion. The Horsehead will disintegrate in about 5 million years.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)