A 212-Hour Exposure of the Orion Constellation


Barnard’s Loop (red arcing filament in the middle), Lambda Orionis (red nebula, top), Rosette Nebula (red and white, upper left), Betelgeuse (orange star, top center), Rigel (blue star, bottom right), and others!

Click here for the same image but with all features labeled!


Tilt-Shifted Images of the Cosmos.

1. Horsehead Nebula
2. Centaurus A
3. Crab Nebula
4. Andromeda Galaxy
5. Meathook Galaxy
6. Thor’s Helmet Nebula
7. Pencil Nebula
8. Tadpole Galaxy


Hubble and the Horsehead, Then and Now

To celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s launch next week, astronomers released a new image (top) of the iconic Horsehead Nebula. It is stunning.

The clouds of stellar gas almost jump right out of my screen! It’s a far cry from the view of the nebula that we’re used to, in the bottom image. Phil Plait has a great description of what you’re seeing at Bad Astronomy:

Just off the top of the Hubble picture is the bright star system Sigma Orionis, composed of five incredibly luminous stars. Combined, they shine with the power of over 75,000 Suns! They are responsible for heating and exciting the gas behind the Horsehead.

The Horsehead itself is the site of ongoing star formation. The dense gas and dust inside the nebula is collapsing to form stars, and, at the same time, the edges are being eroded away by the fierce ultraviolet light of Sigma Orionis. The top of the Horsehead is acting a bit like a shield, protecting the material beneath it, which is why it’s taken on that umbrella-like shape. You can see more sculpted pillars of material around the sides, too, like sandbars in a stream.

Well done, Hubble team. Keep up the good work. You’ve inspired millions.


Hubble at 23: Horsehead Nebula in a New Light

The Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit for 23 years and, to celebrate this milestone, the space telescope has revisited the famous Horsehead Nebula in the constellation of Orion.

It really has been a crappy week, so here’s some Hubble therapy to end the week a little less crappy. Hubble reminds us that the human spirit for exploration and discovery far outweigh our drive to maim and kill.