Hubble snaps iconic image as part of Hubble anniversary celebration

April 19, 2013 at 7:20 PM   |   0 comments

GREENBELT, Md., April 19 (UPI) -- NASA's Hubble telescope has taken a new image of the iconic Horsehead Nebula to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory's launch.

The Hubble Space Telescope went into orbit aboard the space shuttle Discover April 24, 1990.

Astronomers used Hubble to capture a new image of the Horsehead Nebula in infrared light to reveal features never before seen, NASA reported Friday.

The Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery more than a century ago and has long been a favorite target for amateur and professional astronomers.

Though looking somewhat shadowy in visible light, it becomes a strikingly ethereal vision when seen at infrared wavelengths as in the new image released by NASA.

In the new Hubble image, the backlit wisps along the Horsehead's upper ridge are illuminated by Sigma Orionis, a young five-star system just out of view, while along the nebula's top ridge two fledgling stars peek out from their now-exposed nurseries.

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