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News Release Archive:

News Release 9 of 10

April 24, 2001 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2001-12

By Popular Demand: Hubble Observes the Horsehead Nebula

A Hubble Heritage Release

April 24, 2001: Rising from a sea of dust and gas like a giant seahorse, the Horsehead nebula is one of the most photographed objects in the sky. The Hubble telescope took a close-up look at this heavenly icon, revealing the cloud's intricate structure. This detailed view of the horse's head is being released to celebrate the orbiting observatory's eleventh anniversary. Hubble was launched by the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990 and deployed into a 360-mile-high Earth orbit on April 25. Produced by the Hubble Heritage Project, this picture is a testament to the Horsehead's popularity. Internet voters selected this object for the orbiting telescope to view.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. What does the picture show?


  2. The Horsehead is a cold, dark cloud of gas and dust, silhouetted against the bright nebula, IC 434. The bright area at the top left edge is a young star still embedded in its nursery of gas and dust. But radiation from this hot star is eroding the stellar nursery. The top of the nebula also is being sculpted by radiation from a massive star located out of Hubble's field of view.

 
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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)