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The Horsehead Nebula: Zoom in on JWST’s sharpest infrared image to date

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Zoom, zoom, zoom into “the sharpest infrared images to date” of the iconic Horsehead Nebula, a dark nebula located approximately 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Orion. Also known as Barnard 33, it gets its name from its shape, as seen from Earth’s point-of-view.

Locate the three aligned white “dots” in the center of the image below. This fantastically detailed video zooms in on the section that’s between the first dot and that slightly smaller pinpoint just below it.

zooming in on the horsehead nebula
The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope team shared the images in April 2024. From WebbTelescope.org:

“The Horsehead Nebula is prancing across the cosmic stage in new infrared views from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Extreme close-ups of the horse’s ‘mane’ from Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) showcase a dynamic region that transitions from a mostly neutral, warm area of gas and dust within the nebula (represented in blue) to surrounding hot, ionized gas (red). Webb’s observations will allow astronomers to investigate how dust in the nebula blocks and emits light, and to better understand the nebula’s shape.”

Be sure to scroll down on this page to compare the NIRCam and MIRI images with a slider tool.

the horsehead nebula

“The nebula formed from a collapsing interstellar cloud of material, and glows because it is illuminated by a nearby hot star. The gas clouds surrounding the Horsehead have already dissipated, but the jutting pillar is made of thick clumps of material that is harder to erode. Astronomers estimate that the Horsehead has about five million years left before it too disintegrates. Webb’s new view focuses on the illuminated edge of the top of the nebula’s distinctive dust and gas structure.”

the horsehead nebula's mane
Hubble also zoomed in on the Horsehead Nebula in 2013, but JWST’s technology provides exceptional visual detail and information.

Watch these related videos next:
β€’Β This Is A Film About The James Webb Space Telescope
β€’ Bill Nye explains the Webb Space Telescope’s first images
β€’Β The largest, sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda Galaxy
β€’Β Solar System, Milky Way, Laniakea, our home supercluster

via Colos.

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