Horsehead Nebula
The Horsehead Nebula ~ IC 434
The Horsehead Nebula (also known as IC 434 or Bernard 33) is a dark nebula in the direction of the constellation Orion. It is located very near to the bright star Alnitak, part of the 3 stars that make up Orion's belt. It is relatively very near to earth at only about 1400 light years away or 8 million billion miles. It is extremely difficult to see visually through any telescope but is one of the most easily identifiable objects in photographs due to its resemblance to a horse's head. The dark nebula is composed of dust and gas and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex where star formation is taking place. Notice that there are very few stars visible in the dark part of the nebula, compared to the brighter red parts, since the opaque gas and dust blocks starlight from behind. Most stars in this image are behind the nebula, hence they appear red in color, due to the nebula acting like a red filter. The red parts of the nebula forms an emission nebula in that it is emitting its own light due to the ionized atoms of hydrogen being excited by UV light emitted by nearby young stars. It is possible that the “nose” of the “horse” will eventually be pinched off, begin collapsing, and eventually form a new star system with planets and asteroids. Stats for IC 434 are: RA: 05h 40m 40.0s, Dec: -02° 27' 00", no reference Magnitude, and ize: 90.0'x14.0'.
Optics: RC Optical System 20" F/8.2 (4165.6 mm Focal Length) Date: Month, 20xx
Camera: SBIG STXL-11000 with AO-X Adaptive Optics Location: Columbus, Texas
Exposure: LRGB = 380:100:100:160 minutes Imager: Kent E. Biggs