D. Heilman Astrophotography

Horsehead and Flame

The eastern most star in Orion’s belt is decorated with two bright nebulae ~1500 light years distant.  Part of the greater Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, these nebulae are irradiated by Sigma Orionis (bright star in the upper right) and emit red light from excited hydrogen gas (H-alpha).  Intervening dust envelops a stellar nursery within and gives the cloud its recognizable shapes.