As NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 11th
birthday, its JPL-built camera has added picture number
100,000 to its bulging photo album.

A sampling of images taken by the Wide Field and
Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) is available at .

In honor of the birthday and by popular demand, the
Hubble team has released a new WFPC2 image of the Horsehead
nebula, available online at . Last year, 500,000
online voters, including students, teachers, and professional
and amateur astronomers, chose the nebula as an astronomical
target for Hubble to observe. Additional images and an
animation of the Horsehead nebula are available at .

Rising from a sea of dust and gas like a giant seahorse,
the Horsehead nebula is one of the most photographed objects
in the sky. Hubble’s WFPC2 camera took a close-up look at this
heavenly icon, revealing the cloud’s intricate structure.

The Horsehead, also known as Barnard 33, is a cold, dark
cloud of gas and dust silhouetted against the bright red
nebula IC 434. The bright area at the top left edge is a young
star still embedded in its nursery of gas and dust. But
radiation from this hot star is eroding the stellar nursery.
The top of the nebula also is being sculpted by radiation from
a massive star located out of Hubble’s field-of-view.

The nebula was first discovered on a photographic plate
in the late 1800s. Located in the constellation Orion, the
Horsehead nebula lies just south of the bright star Zeta
Orionis, which is easily visible to the unaided eye as the
left-hand star in the line of three that form Orion’s Belt.

This image was composed by the Hubble Heritage Team at
the Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md. The
team superimposed Hubble data onto ground-based data taken by
Nigel A. Sharp at the .9-meter (35-inch) telescope at the
National Science Foundation’s Kitt Peak National Observatory
near Tucson, Ariz.

The magnificent extent of the Horsehead is best
appreciated in a new wide-field image of the nebula being
released today by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory,
taken by Travis Rector with the same .9-meter (35-inch)
telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. The image is
available at .

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 24,
1990. The Hubble is a project of international cooperation
between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). JPL, which
designed and built the WFPC-2 camera, is a division of the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Additional information about the Hubble Space Telescope
and more images are available at . More
information about WFPC2 is available at .

Image Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team
Acknowledgment: K. Noll (Hubble Heritage PI/STScI), C.
Luginbuhl (USNO),
F. Hamilton (Hubble Heritage/STScI)