Cosmic Tour: The Horsehead Nebula

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Sixteen hundred light-years away, a shadowy cloud of gas and dust—the Horsehead Nebula—juts out into a starlit void.


Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University

  • Still image of the Horsehead Nebula courtesy of NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
  • Zoom-in to the Horsehead Nebula with 3-D visualization courtesy of NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, T. Borders, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz 3D Team, STScI)
  • Written by Margaret Carruthers
  • Designed by 
  • Music courtesy of Associated Production Music


Text, Cosmic Tour, The Horsehead Nebula
Sixteen hundred light-years away, a shadowy cloud of gas and dust - the Horsehead Nebula - juts out into a starlet void. Scale bar showing 1 light-year 0.31 parsecs
The nebula is illuminated by a young, multiple-star system above the image.
The harsh stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation emitted by one of the young stars is slowly eroding the nebula, exposing newly-formed stars embedded within it.
Blue lines connect stars in the shape of Orion. Text, Ground-based image (A. Fujii, visible light
Digitized Sky Survey, visible light
Hubble Space Telescope with E.S.O. VISTA, infrared light. Hubble Space Telescope, infrared 3-D model