22 October 2016 | Horse & Flame

Horsehead Nebula

Credit: Michael Deger | Click image to enlarge

Image Data
  • Location: Erdweg, Germany
  • Date taken: 27.12.2013 – 29.12.2013
  • Camera: SBIG ST8300M & FW8 – 8300
  • Optics: 4,5″ Newton, f = 440mm
  • Mount: 10 Micron GM 1000HPS
  • Filters: Baader HLRGB
  • Exposure: H:24x10min  L:12x10min  R:6x10min  G:6x10min  B:6x10min ( 1×1 ). Total: 9 hours.

This spectacular red bright emission nebula in the constellation Orion you see in front of you is designated IC 434. It was discovered on February 1, 1786 by William Herschel. The Horsehead Nebula is a dark nebula clearly silhouetted against it.

The Horsehead Nebula was first recorded in 1888 by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which bears some resemblance to a horse’s head when viewed from Earth.

To the bottom left you see the Flame Nebula, an emission nebula designated as NGC 2024 and Sh2-277.

The bright star Alnitak, the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion, shines energetic ultraviolet light into the Flame and this knocks electrons away from the great clouds of hydrogen gas that reside there. Much of the glow results when the electrons and ionized hydrogen recombine. Additional dark gas and dust lies in front of the bright part of the nebula and this is what causes the dark network that appears in the center of the glowing gas. The Flame Nebula and Horsehead Nebula are part of the star-forming region called the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.


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