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Two views of the Horsehead Nebula
Horsehead Nebula in visible light
Horsehead Nebula in near-infrared light

Image credits:
Top image: NASA, NOAO, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA);
Bottom image: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

These Hubble Space Telescope images show striking differences between the visible-light and near-infrared-light views of a star-making pillar of gas and dust, called the Horsehead Nebula. The nebula appears as a solid dark structure in the visible-light image at top. The bright area at the top left edge is a young star still buried in its nursery of gas and dust. The entire top of the nebula is being sculpted by radiation from a massive star located out of Hubble's view.

In the near-infrared image at bottom, the Horsehead appears more transparent because infrared light penetrates gas and dust to reveal details not seen in the visible-light view. The star that was buried in gas and dust in Hubble's visible-light image glows brightly in the near-infrared view. A rich tapestry of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies also appear in the infrared image.