The Flame and Horsehead Nebulae, March 18, 2009. The brightest star in this photograph is one of Orion's belt stars called Alnitak. This is a hot, blue supergiant star that is shining energetic ultraviolet light into massive clouds of hydrogen gas causing them to glow. The bright Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) is to the left of Alnitak, and the reddish Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) is to the right. The shape of the horsehead is caused by an enormous dust cloud in front of the glowing hydrogen. The hazy, blue areas in the image are reflection nebulae. The main features in this photograph are all about a thousand light years away.
This photograph is a detail of an Orion's Belt and Sword photograph.
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