Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color

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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 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.

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