Horsehead and Orion nebulae, NGC 2024 and IC 434
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Horsehead and Orion nebulae, NGC 2024 and IC 434, Orion molecular cloud
Top left is NE. Image width is about 2.2 degrees
Image and text © 1987-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory
Photograph from UK Schmidt plates by David Malin.

This wide-angle picture of the Orion region has been made to reveal the extensive network of very faint filaments which are traceable over most of the constellation. These faint features are optical evidence of a substantial dark cloud of molecular gas and dust which are detectable at radio wavelengths. Where hot stars are closely associated with the molecular cloud such as this, a bright nebula appears.

By far the most conspicuous of these is the Orion Nebula, M42. This spectacular object is so bright that its light is reflected from filaments of the dark cloud some distance away. In contrast, the wisps of the Horsehead Nebula are much fainter but even here faint tendrils of nebulosity show that the nebula is much more extensive than is generally realised. All these objects are about 1350 light years distant.

Related images
AAT 19.    The Orion nebula
AAT 19a.  The Orion nebula
AAT 19b.  The Orion nebula (no unsharp mask)
AAT 29.    The Trapezium stars in Orion
AAT 34.    Reflection nebula in Orion, NGC 1973-75-77
AAT 34a.  Reflection nebula in Orion, NGC 1973-75-77, wide field
AAT 36.    The Horsehead nebula in Orion (portrait format)
AAT 36a.  The Horsehead nebula in Orion (wide field, landscape format)
UKS 1.     The Horsehead nebula and IC 434
UKS 8.     The Great Nebula in Orion
UKS 23.   Faint nebulosity near Orion and Horsehead Nebulae
UKS 25.   Between M 42 and NGC 1973-75-77
Constellation of Orion (external site)

For details of object position and photographic exposure, search technical table by UKS reference number.

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, July 25