TONY & DAPHNE HALLAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY TONY & DAPHNE HALLAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Horsehead and Flame nebulae. Optical image of part of the Orion nebula complex, an enormous starbirth region some 1500 light years from Earth, in the constellation Orion. The Horsehead nebula (Barnard 33, dark, upper centre-right) is several light years across and is formed by an intrusion of dust into the emission nebula IC 434. Its red glow is due to the ionisation of hydrogen by radiation from nearby stars. This wide-field image shows vast swirls of dust clouds and reflection nebulae (blue). The bright nebula to the left of the Horsehead is the Flame Nebula or NGC 2024.
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