A horse-shaped nebula gets its close-up in new photos by NASA’s Webb telescope

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DALLAS — NASA’s Webb Space Telescope has revealed the sharpest images yet of a portion of a horse-shaped nebula, showing the “mane” in finer detail.

The Horsehead Nebula, in the constellation Orion, is 1,300 light-years away. A light-year is nearly 6 trillion miles (9.7 trillion kilometers).

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Discovered over a century ago, its nickname derives from its striking appearance — a wispy pillar of gas and dust that resembles a horse rearing its head.

Webb’s latest infrared images released Monday captured the top of Horsehead in greater detail, illuminating clouds of chilly hydrogen molecules and soot-like chemicals. These glamour shots can help refine astronomers’ understanding of the nebula, which acts as a nursery for big stars to brew.

Horsehead is a favorite target of space observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope. Last year, the European space telescope Euclid took fresh photos of the nebula.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.



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