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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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Horse Head Nebula, Drew Elliot

Helix Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula is a Dark Nebula. These are parts of the interstellar medium with very high density and very low temperature. This particular nebula was discovered and cataloged by Edward Barnard around the year 1900. He found this nebula in the Orion constellation. The nebula is located just below Alnikat , the star farthest left on Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orien Molecular Cloud Complex. It is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which is similar to that of a horse’s head. The red glow originates from Hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick stellar dust which absorbs the light that hits it. The lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by the magnetic field of the surrounding stars. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming.

This is a beautiful representation of a Dark Nebula. It is surrounded by a vibrant red glow that is spectacular! The hydrogen is what is making the red glow around the clearly visible Horse's head. I positioned the horsehead at the top of the picture because I wanted to avoid the excess light from a star that would have been directly above it. This minimalized the light streaks through the horsehead This object is about .114 light years in diameter.

References:
Freedman, Roger A. Universe. New York: W.H. Freeman, 2002. Print.

Malin, David "Barnard 33, the Horsehead Nebula." Nebulae <http://www.maa.clell.de/Messier/E/Xtra/NGC/b33.html>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:40:40
Declination (J2000) -2:30:37
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in C, 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

November 9, 2009 at 5:40AM(C)
November 9, 2009 at 5:40 AM(BVR)