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NASA Releases Epic New Image Of Horsehead Nebula For Hubble Anniversary

Apr 19, 2013 12:35 PM EDT

In celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA released a new infrared image of the iconic Horsehead Nebula.

The image is surreal, like a great space kraken rising above the sea  of interstellar stardust, ready to overtake any cosmic body that gets in its way.   

Astronomers first spotted the nebula, also called Barnard 33, more than a century ago. It reportedly got its name after an image taken at Harvard College Observatory revealed a coincidentally horse-like silhouette in the nebula's cloud.

The nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud, located about 1,500 light years away in the constellation Orion. Since Orion is such an easy constellation to spot, the nebula is a fan favorite among amateur astronomers.

According to a NASA release, the cloud also contains other well-known objects such as the Great Orion Nebula (M42), the Flame Nebula, and Barnard's Loop. It is one of the nearest and most easily photographed regions in which massive stars are being formed.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990. 

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