The Horsehead Nebula in Infrared Light

  • Released Friday, September 25, 2015

The Horsehead Nebula is a dark cloud of dense gas and dust located just below the belt of Orion on the sky. A visible light view shows a strong silhouette resembling the horse's head used for a knight in chess. Infrared light, however, reveals a more complex scene, as shown in Hubble's 2013 image. The warm parts of the clouds glow in infrared light, plus longer infrared wavelengths can penetrate deeper into the clouds. A dark and relatively featureless scene is revealed as a glowing gaseous landscape.

This video presents a scientific visualization of the Horsehead Nebula as seen in infrared light. To fill out the widescreen frame, the central Hubble image has been augmented by ground-based observations from the European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). The three-dimensional interpretation has been sculpted to create a wispy and mountainous environment, with stars distributed in an approximate and statistical manner. The computer graphics model is intended to be scientifically reasonable, but not fully accurate. This imaginative traverse provides an inspiring spaceflight experience that brings the celestial scene to life.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, T. Davis, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz 3D Team, STScI)

Release date

This page was originally published on Friday, September 25, 2015.
This page was last updated on Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:26 AM EDT.


This visualization is related to the following missions: