New views of the Horsehead Nebula and its turbulent environment have been unveiled by ESA's Herschel space observatory and the NASA/ESA Hubble space telescope. The Horsehead Nebula lies in the constellation Orion, about 1300 light-years away, and is a popular target for amateur and professional astronomers alike. It sits just to the south of star Alnitak, the easternmost of Orion's famous three-star belt, and is part of the vast Orion Molecular Cloud complex. The new far-infrared Herschel view shows in spectacular detail the scene playing out around the Horsehead Nebula. This star-forming region appears obscured by dark dust lanes in visible light images, but blazes in full glory in the far-infrared Herschel view.
Herschel's view of the Horsehead Nebula in the context of its surroundings. The image is a composite of the wavelengths of 70 microns (blue), 160 microns (green) and 250 microns (red), and covers 4.5 x 1.5 degrees. Copyright ESA/Herschel/PACS, SPIRE/N. Schneider, Ph. André, V. Könyves (CEA Saclay, France) for the "Gould Belt survey" Key Programme
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"What determines the density structure of molecular clouds? A case study of Orion B with Herschel", N. Schneider et al., is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, 766, L17, April 2013.