This plume of dark material makes up one of the most recognisable objects in the night sky - the Horsehead Nebula
in Orion. The horsehead shape is visible against the glowing pink of the emission
nebula IC 434.
A famous dark nebula in the constellation of Orion. A plume of obscuring dust takes a form
very reminiscent of a horse\'s head, dark against a glowing background.
The Horsehead Nebula is located in Orion. In the sky, it appears a little to the south of Alnitak at the eastern end of the three stars that make up Orion's Belt. In fact it is considerably further away than the Belt star Alnitak, and the radiation that makes this dark nebula visible against its glowing background comes from nearby Sigma Orionis.
The Horsehead is in fact a small segment of the immense Orion Molecular Cloud, formed from a tendril of gas and dust that stands out against the pale pink glow of a swathe of ionised hydrogen within the Cloud, itself designated IC 434. This dark strand of matter has a twist at its tip, folding back on itself in a way that creates the distinctive horsehead form from which the nebula takes its name.
A dense accumulation of material, this nebula creates a region in which new stars are being formed, especially in the denser regions that form the 'neck' of the horse's head.