Horsehead Of A Different Color

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orin stepanek
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Horsehead Of A Different Color

Post by orin stepanek » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:28 pm

I suppose bystander already has this; but I couldn't find where so here goes!
http://hubblesite.org/news/2013/12
Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color

April 19, 2013: 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.

As part of Hubble's 23rd anniversary Horsehead Nebula release, amateur astronomers around the world were invited to send in their Horsehead Nebula photos. Visit the Hubble Heritage Horsehead Image Release (http://heritage.stsci.edu/2013/12/supplemental.html) to view the contributions via Flickr and Tumblr and to send us your own image.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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Re: Horsehead Of A Different Color

Post by bystander » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:14 pm

Horsehead Nebula in Infrared
NASA | ESA | Hubble Heritage | STScI | AURA | 2013 Apr 19

Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color
Image
Looking like an apparition rising from whitecaps of interstellar foam, the iconic Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery over a century ago. The nebula is a favorite target for amateur and professional astronomers.

In this new Hubble Space Telescope view, the nebula appears in a new light, as seen in infrared wavelengths. The nebula, shadowy in optical light, appears transparent and ethereal when seen in the infrared, represented here with visible shades. The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that are easily seen in infrared light.

The Horsehead was photographed in celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the launch of Hubble aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Over its two decades of producing ground-breaking science, Hubble has benefited from a slew of upgrades, including the 2009 addition of a new imaging workhorse: the high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3 that was used to take this portrait of the Horsehead.

The backlit wisps along the Horsehead's upper ridge are being illuminated by Sigma Orionis, a young five-star system just off the top of the Hubble image. A harsh ultraviolet glare from one of these bright stars is slowly evaporating the nebula. Along the nebula's top ridge, two fledgling stars peek out from their now-exposed nurseries.

Gas clouds surrounding the Horsehead have already dissipated, but the tip of the jutting pillar contains a slightly higher density of hydrogen and helium, laced with dust. This casts a shadow that protects material behind it from being photo-evaporated, and a pillar structure forms. Astronomers estimate that the Horsehead formation has about five million years left before it too disintegrates.

The Horsehead Nebula is part of a much larger complex in the constellation Orion. Known collectively as the Orion Molecular Cloud, it also houses other famous objects such as the Great Orion Nebula (M42), the Flame Nebula, and Barnard's Loop. At about 1,500 light-years away, this complex is one of the nearest and most easily photographed regions in which massive stars are being formed.

Hubble's pairing of infrared sensitivity and unparalleled resolution offers a tantalizing hint of what the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, set for launch in 2018, will be able to do.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A fresh take on the Horsehead Nebula
ESA/HEIC Hubble's 23rd anniversary image | 2013 Apr 19

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
To celebrate its 23rd year in orbit, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has released a stunning new image of one of the most distinctive objects in our skies: the Horsehead Nebula. This image shows the nebula in a whole new light, capturing plumes of gas in the infrared and revealing a beautiful, delicate structure that is normally obscured by dust.

This year marks the 23rd year of observing for the Hubble Space Telescope. Alongside cutting-edge science, the orbiting observatory has produced countless stunning astronomical images. Some of the most striking and beautiful subjects of Hubble’s images have been nebulae — vast interstellar clouds of gas and dust.

This new Hubble image, captured and released to celebrate this milestone, shows part of the sky in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Rising like a giant seahorse from turbulent waves of dust and gas is the Horsehead Nebula, otherwise known as Barnard 33. The nebula formed from a collapsing interstellar cloud of material, and glows as it is illuminated by a nearby hot star [1].

The gas clouds surrounding the Horsehead have already dissipated, but the jutting pillar is made of stronger stuff — thick clumps of material — that is harder to erode. Astronomers estimate that the Horsehead formation has about five million years left before it too disintegrates.

This nebula is a very well-known object and a popular target for observations, most of which show the Horsehead as a dark cloud silhouetted against a background of glowing gas. This new image shows the same region in infrared light, which has longer wavelengths than visible light and can pierce through the dusty material that usually obscures the nebula’s inner regions. The result is a rather ethereal and fragile-looking structure, made of delicate folds of gas — very different to the nebula’s appearance in visible light.

We cannot see infrared radiation with our eyes or with standard cameras, which are designed to detect optical light. To observe these objects, we have infrared-sensitive telescopes or instruments — for example, Hubble’s high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3, fitted in 2009. Hubble’s pairing of infrared sensitivity and unparalleled resolution offers a tantalising hint of what we will be able to achieve with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, set for launch in 2018.

[list=1]Notes:

This image shows two different views of the Horsehead Nebula. On the right is a view of the nebula in visible light, taken using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile (eso0202). The new image on the left shows the nebula in the infrared, using observations from Hubble’s high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3.

Hubble also imaged the Horsehead Nebula to celebrate its 11th year in orbit (heic0105).

[*] Some nebulae form in much more dramatic ways — like the Helix Nebula, the result of a once Sun-like star blowing off its outer layers, or the Crab Nebula, the remains of a massive star exploding as a supernova. [/list]

Credit: Left: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Right: ESO/VLT

Hubble at 23: Horsehead Nebula in a New Light
Discovery News | Ian O'Neill | 2013 Apr 19

Hubble's Knight to Remember
Slate Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2013 Apr 19

A New Look at the Horsehead Nebula for Hubble’s 23rd Anniversary
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2013 Apr 19
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alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
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Re: Horsehead Of A Different Color

Post by neufer » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:03 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22217334 wrote:
One of the classics of astronomy, the Horsehead Nebula, has been re-imaged by Europe's soon-to-retire Herschel space telescope.
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News, 19 April 2013
<<Europe's Herschel space telescope has imaged one of the most popular subjects in the sky - the Horsehead Nebula - and its environs. The distinctively shaped molecular gas cloud is sited some 1,300 light-years from Earth in the Constellation Orion. It is in a region of space undergoing active star formation - something Herschel has been most keen to study. The Hubble space observatory has also returned to the Horsehead scene, to celebrate 23 years in orbit. Together, these two great facilities give scientists a much broader insight into what is taking place in this familiar patch of the heavens. "You need images at all scales and at all wavelengths in astronomy in order to understand the big picture and the small detail," said Prof Matt Griffin, the principal investigator on Herschel's SPIRE instrument. "In this new Herschel view, the Horsehead looks like a little feature - a pimple. In reality, of course, it is a very large entity in its own right, but in this great sweep of a picture from Herschel you can see that the nebula is set within an even larger, molecular-cloud complex where there is a huge amount of material and a great range of conditions," the Cardiff University, UK, researcher told BBC News.

To provide a sense of scale, the Horsehead Nebula, also known in the catalogues as "Barnard 33", is about five light-years "tall". Hubble sees the Horsehead in near-infrared light. Herschel, on the other hand, goes to much longer wavelengths. This allows it to see the glow coming directly from cold gas and dust - the material that will eventually collapse under gravity to form the next generation of stars.

Scientists are particularly keen to understand the mechanisms that drive the production of the biggest stars - objects much more massive than our own Sun that form relatively fast, burn bright but brief lives, and interact strongly with their environment, influencing the next round of star formation.

The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex is one of the best and nearest regions in space to study this activity. Prof Griffin explained: "You can see all the things we look for in Herschel images - the filaments, the bubbles; the wispy material, the reddish material that hasn't yet actually started to form stars. You can also see nebulosity where material has been lit up from inside by stars; and features like the Horsehead Nebula where that star formation has yet to really get going."

The much shorter wavelengths at which Hubble works means it can produce finer, sharper detail than Herschel. It illustrates particularly well the way the ultraviolet glare and stellar winds from nearby stars are sculpting the dusty stellar nursery. Hubble hopefully has quite a few years of operations left in it. Herschel does not. Scientists are expecting to lose the telescope any day now. The superfluid helium it uses to cool its instruments and their detectors is all but gone. When the supply runs completely dry, Herschel will warm from its ultra-low functioning temperature and go blind. A scholarly paper describing Herschel's investigation of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex has been published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.>>
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Re: Horsehead Of A Different Color

Post by bystander » Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:41 pm

Herschel and Hubble see the Horsehead in new light
ESA Space Science | Herschel | 2013 Apr 19
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 at the right-hand side of the image, where it seems to surf like a ‘white horse’ in the waves of turbulent star-forming clouds.

It appears to be riding towards another favourite stopping point for astrophotographers: NGC 2024, also known as the Flame 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.

Intense radiation streaming away from newborn stars heats up the surrounding dust and gas, making it shine brightly to Herschel’s infrared-sensitive eyes.

The panoramic view also covers two prominent sites of massive star formation to the northeast (left-hand side of this image), known as NGC 2068 (or M78) and NGC 2071. These take on the appearance of beautifully patterned butterfly wings, with long tails of colder gas and dust streaming away.

Both are reflection nebulas, so called because they reflect the light of nearby stars, revealing them even at visible wavelengths.

Extensive networks of cool gas and dust weave throughout the scene in the form of red and yellow filaments, some of which may host newly forming lightweight stars.

The new Hubble view, taken at near-infrared wavelengths with its Wide Field Camera 3 to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the launch of the observatory, zooms in on the Horsehead to reveal fine details of its structure.

Nearby stars illuminate the backlit wisps along the upper ridge of the nebula in an ethereal glow. The harsh ultraviolet glare from these bright stars is slowly evaporating the dusty stellar nursery. Two fledgling stars have already been exposed from their protective cocoons, and can just be seen peeking out from the upper ridge.

These latest views are also presented in a new fly-through animation, which puts the Horsehead in context and shows it at both visible and infrared wavelengths. The new views from Herschel and Hubble are complemented by ground-based images from other telescopes.
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Re: Horsehead Of A Different Color

Post by MargaritaMc » Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:56 pm

The fly-through animation is breath-taking. And, for me, greatly helps understanding.
Thank you for posting this, bystander.
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Re: Horsehead Of A Different Color

Post by neufer » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:00 pm

bystander wrote:A Flame in Orion’s Belt | 02 Dec 2010
This mosaic image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, features three nebulae that are part of the giant Orion Molecular Cloud. The image covers an area of the sky about three times as high and wide as the full moon (1.5 by 1.8 degrees). Included in this view are the Flame nebula, the Horsehead nebula and NGC 2023.

Despite its name, there is no fire roaring in the Flame nebula. What makes this nebula shine is the bright blue star seen to the right of the central cloud. This star, Alnitak, is the easternmost star in Orion’s belt. Wind and radiation from Alnitak blasts away electrons from the gas in the Flame nebula, causing it to become ionized and glow in visible light. The infrared glow seen by WISE is from dust warmed by Alnitak’s radiation. Also known as NGC 2024 and Orion B, this nebula is classified as a molecular cloud.

The famous Horsehead nebula appears in this image as a faint bump on the lower right side of the vertical dust ridge. In visible light, this nebula is easily recognizable as a dramatic silhouette in the shape of a horse’s head. It is classified as a dark nebula because the dense cloud blocks out the visible light of the glowing gas behind it. WISE’s infrared detectors can peer into the cloud to see the glow of the dust itself.

A third nebula, called NGC 2023, can be seen as a bright circle in the lower half of the image. NGC 2023 is classified as a reflection nebula, meaning that the dust is reflecting the visible light of nearby stars. But here WISE sees the infrared glow of the warmed dust itself.

This image was made from data collected after WISE began to run out of its supply of solid hydrogen cryogen in August 2010. Cryogen is a coolant used to make infrared detectors more sensitive. WISE mapped the entire sky by July using four infrared detectors, but during the period from August to October, 2010, while the cryogen was depleting, WISE had only three detectors operational, and the 12-micron detector was less sensitive. This turned out to be a good thing in the case of this image, because the less-sensitive detector reduced the glare of the Flame portion of the nebula enough to bring out details of the rest of the nebula.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
bystander wrote:The 'Flame' Burns Bright in New WISE Image
NASA JPL-Caltech | WISE | 2012 July 02
A new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the candle-like Flame nebula lighting up a cavern of dust. The Flame nebula is part of the Orion complex, a turbulent star-forming area located near the constellation's star-studded belt.

The image is being released today along with a new batch of data from the mission. Last March, WISE released its all-sky catalog and atlas containing infrared images and data on more than a half billion objects, including everything from asteroids to stars and galaxies. Now, the mission is offering up additional data from its second scan of the sky.

"If you're an astronomer, then you'll probably be in hog heaven when it comes to infrared data," said Edward (Ned) Wright of UCLA, the principal investigator of the WISE mission. "Data from the second sky scan are useful for studying stars that vary or move over time, and for improving and checking data from the first scan."

The new WISE view of the Flame nebula, in which colors are assigned to different channels of infrared light, looks like what appears to be a flaming candle sending off billows of smoke. In fact, the wispy tendrils in the image are part of the larger Orion star-forming complex, a huge dust cloud churning out new stars. In the Flame nebula, massive stars are carving a cavity in this dust. Intense ultraviolet light from a central massive star 20 times heavier than our sun, and buried in the blanketing dust, is causing the cloud to glow in infrared light. This star would be almost as bright to our eyes as the three stars in Orion's belt, but the dust makes the star appear 4 billion times fainter than it really is.

Other features in this view include the nebula NGC 2023, seen as a bright circle in the lower half of the image, and the famous Horsehead nebula, which is hard to see but located to the right of one of the lower, vertical ridges. The bright red arc at lower right is a bow shock, where material in front of the speeding multiple-star system Sigma Orionis is piling up.

The data released today cover about one-third of the mission's second full scan of the sky. They were taken from August to September 2010 as the telescope began to deplete its coolant, operating with three of its four infrared detectors. The coolant kept the telescope chilled to prevent its heat, or infrared radiation, from interfering with the observations. As the telescope warmed during this period, one of the four channels on WISE was overwhelmed by the infrared radiation.
Art Neuendorffer