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The “Horsehead Nebula” in the constellation Orion photographed by ESA’s Euclid Space Telescope | sorae Portal site to the universe


This is a picture of the famous dark nebula “Horsehead Nebula” and its surroundings, located about 1,375 light years away in the direction of the constellation Orion. The name comes from the shape of the cloud at the bottom left of the center of the image, which resembles a horse’s head.


A dark nebula is a celestial body with a high density of gas and dust. It is called a “dark” nebula because the dust blocks the visible light emitted by the celestial bodies on the other side, making the area appear dark from Earth. In the direction of the constellation Orion, there is a vast star-forming region called the Orion Molecular Cloud, of which the Horsehead Nebula is a part.

This image was created based on data obtained by the Visible Light Observer (VIS) and Near Infrared Spectrophotometer (NISP) of ESA’s Euclid Space Telescope. Euclid observes not only visible light but also infrared wavelengths that cannot be detected by the human eye, so the images are colored according to the wavelength at the time the data was acquired.(Colored around 700nm in blue, around 1.1μm in green, and around 1.7μm in red).

The blue glow behind the horse’s head is the light emitted by excited hydrogen gas, which would normally appear red to the human eye. The Horsehead Nebula in the foreground also looks dark to the human eye, but in this case, the areas rich in dust and molecular gas are colored red, making it look like a red horse standing on the earth stained by the setting sun. Masu.

The Euclid Space Telescope, launched in July 2023, was developed to explore the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter. Based on observational data from Euclid, which aims to image billions of galaxies, we will create a three-dimensional map of galaxies distributed along the large-scale structure of the universe, which is thought to have been formed by dark matter. It is also expected to deepen our understanding of dark energy, which is thought to be accelerating the expansion of the universe.

The first image was released by ESA on November 7, 2023 as one of the first full-color images from the Euclid mission. Astronomers have discovered new data in this region obtained from Euclid observations, including planets in the process of forming with masses comparable to Jupiter, brown dwarfs with properties intermediate between stars and planets, and young, newly born planets. It means we want to discover stars.


  • ESA – Euclid’s view of the Horsehead Nebula

Text/sorae editorial department

The article is in Japanese

Tags: Horsehead Nebula constellation Orion photographed ESAs Euclid Space Telescope sorae Portal site universe


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