Horse Head Nebula

Horse Head Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula is an iconic dark nebula, famous for its horsehead-like silhouette set against a bright emission nebula. It's a highlight showcasing the interplay of light and darkness in space.


Approximately 1,375 light years from Earth

Apparant Magnitude


Object Type

Dark Nebula

From the Artist

This is the Horsehead Nebula, it's located in the constellation of Orion. This nebula is located just to the south of Alnitak, the easternmost star of Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. You can see the star in the middle left portion of the photo, although I had it dimmed to give more contrast to the nebula itself.

The nebula consists of a cloud of ionized gas lit from within by young, hot stars; a dark cloud containing interstellar dust lies immediately in front. The dust absorbs the light from part of the ionized cloud. A portion of this dark cloud has a shape somewhat resembling a horse's head.

The nebula is located 1,300 light-years from our Sun. It has a diameter of approximately 13 light-years.

In the Cosmos

Location of the Horsehead Nebula inside the Orion Belt

This nebula is part of the Orion constellation, near the bright star Alnitak. Orion, a prominent winter constellation, is home to many well-known celestial objects, including the Orion Nebula.