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HST 23rd Anniversary Image:

An Infrared Mosaic of the Horsehead Nebula
April 19, 2013

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Heritage Press Release

To commemorate HST's 23rd anniversary, the Hubble Heritage Team has observed the famous Horsehead Nebula with HST's new WFC3 infrared camera. This new view of the Horsehead is stikingly different than the familiar view in visible light, revealing structures hidden by the dense dust and gas. This image complements the 2001 Hubble Heritage image obtained with the WFPC2 camera.

The new WFC3 observations (blue squares, 2nd image on right) were obtained in October/November 2012 and include 9 tiles in a 3x3 mosaic pattern, where a small shift between tiles allows for the removal of detector artifacts. (See Proposal 12812, PI: Levay for details.) The broad band F110W (YJ) and F160W (H) filters highlight unique physical processes occuring in and around the nebula, and they combine to produce a dramatic new color image.

Parallel observations with the ACS Wide Field Channel (pink squares, 2nd image on right) have also been obtained to create an H-alpha mosaic of the "horizon" feature adjacent to the Horsehead. High level products for this dataset will be released soon. Ultimately, these new images will be combined with the existing WFPC2 images to create an extended mosaic.

Since the Horsehead Nebula mosaics represent a significant investment of expert processing beyond the standard archival products, these drizzle-combined FITS images have now been released as a High-Level Science Product (HLSP) via the B. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). We provide a list of downloadable FITS files and preview GIF images. The associated configuration (cfg) files list the parameters used to combine the individual frames using HST's new AstroDrizzle software. Both the drizzled science (sci) and weight (wht) images are available. The later provide an effective exposure time map for each filter.

Filenames follow the naming convention:


  • fffff - filter (f110w or f160w)
  • ttt - the file type:
    • science (sci)
    • weight (wht)
    • drizzle configuration (cfg)
image showing orientation and scale of image

Click to see larger image with filter information.

HST Footprints over Digitized Sky Survey Image

HST Footprints over Digitized Sky Survey Image
Click to see larger image.

Previews are provided below.


Interactive Display



Interactive Display