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April 19, 2013 08:50 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-12

Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color

A Hubble Heritage Release

April 19, 2013: Unlike other celestial objects there is no question how the Horsehead Nebula got its name. This iconic silhouette of a horse's head and neck pokes up mysteriously from what look like whitecaps of interstellar READ: Junior version of this article Amazing Space Learn about this story in the Star Witness, a science newspaper available on our sister site, Amazing Space.  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.

As part of Hubble's 23rd anniversary Horsehead Nebula release, amateur astronomers around the world were invited to send in their Horsehead Nebula photos. Visit the Hubble Heritage Horsehead Image Release (http://heritage.stsci.edu/2013/12/supplemental.html) to view the contributions via Flickr and Tumblr and to send us your own image.

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