Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula from Blue to Infrared
Posted on 07/31/2014 10:39:56 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Explanation: One of the most identifiable nebulae in the sky, the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, is part of a large, dark, molecular cloud. Also known as Barnard 33, the unusual shape was first discovered on a photographic plate in the late 1800s. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic field. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming. Light takes about 1,500 years to reach us from the Horsehead Nebula. The above image is a digital combination of images taken in blue, green, red, and hydrogen-alpha light from the Argentina, and an image taken in infrared light by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
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[Credit & Copyright: Optical: Aldo Mottino & Carlos Colazo, OAC, Córdoba; Infrared: Hubble Legacy Archive]
I kept waiting for it to turn colors. Doh.
Godzilla looks angry.
I first saw a photo of the Horsehead Nebula in grade school more than fifty years ago.
No change. Must be larger than even our ability to imagine. Awesome.
It is immense, about two light years across (from nose to mane). You generally won’t see significant changes to something like that in a human lifespan, except perhaps for the occasional new star lighting up inside a nebula (for example, McNeil’s nebula http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McNeil%27s_Nebula ). To see huge structures like this change rapidly enough to observe the change in human timespans, you have to look at something moving with relativistic velocities, such as a black hole jet. M87’s black hole jet is a good example of this and can be seen at the end of this video:
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