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Horsehead Nebula Facts You Always Wanted to Know

Swapnil Srivastava
The Horsehead Nebula is reminiscent of a horse's neck and head, against a shiny background. This story contains some basic information about this beautiful part of the universe.
Galaxies offer unlimited scope of exploration to mankind, especially with the advent of advanced technologies. Many nebulas, like Ant, Boomerang, Crab, Orion, and Horsehead, have fascinated the scientists who are interested in astronomy and space exploration.

Nebular Theory

Nebular theory is an account of the miraculous origin and evolution of the solar system. Being just an emphatic speculation, it cannot be demonstrated or proven true by observations or mathematical equations. German philosopher Immanuel Kant, was the first person to propose the hypothesis in 1775, and the theory was modified in 1796, by Pierre Laplace.
The theory helped scientists form a hypothetical model of the star and planet formation. According to this, a nebula contracts under the force of gravity, eventually flattening into a spinning disk with a central bulge. A protostar forms at the center, and the matter condenses around the protostar. Planets are formed from the spinning matter in the disk.
Eventually, with condensing and cooling, the bulge's great mass becomes the Sun. The nebular theory also explains the formation and rotation of the planets around the Sun.
The hypothesis has indicated general tendencies of the laws of nature, and has not been proved to be inconsistent with any fact. It is the only theory which accounts the origin and conservation of the Sun's heat, and has also been useful for promoters of space research and exploration.

Facts about Horsehead Nebula

It is a part of the optical nebula 1C434, and was first recorded in the year 1888, at the Harvard College Observatory. It is also known as Barnard 33 and is reminiscent of a horse's neck and head, against a glowing background. It consists of a cloud of ionized gas, which is lit from within, by a number of newly formed stars.
It is also observed that a dark cloud containing interstellar dust lies right in front of the Horsehead Nebula. The dust absorbs light from these ionized clouds and small red spots seen at the base, tend to betray the presence of the hidden protostars.
The Horsehead Nebula is around 400 parsecs (1,300 light-years) far from the Sun and has a diameter of approximately 4 parsecs (13 light-years). Its calculated mass is approximately 250 solar masses, and the extremely dense clouds projecting in front of the ionized gas, provide a beautiful pink glow to its appearance.
The glow is because of the hydrogen gas, which is ionized by the nearby bright Sigma Orionis star. Bright spots in its base are the young stars in the process of forming.
The Horsehead Nebula attracts scientists from around the world by its captivating beauty and its interesting resemblance with the head of a horse.