The Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33)

The Hunter Orion
© Akira Fujii/DMI
deutsche Version

The "Asterix et Extraterrestres"-banner shows the Horsehead nebula. The Horsehead is part of a dense, dark cloud of gas and dust located in the constellation of Orion. The distance from earth is about 490 parsec [1] (1,600 light-years [2]). The "head" itself has a width of about two light-years. The Horsehead nebula lies south of the bright star Zeta Orionis, which is the easternmost star in the line of three stars that form Orion's Belt. The bright pink-colored background is the emission nebula IC 434, a region with high star-forming activity.

The image of the Horsehead nebula, which was used for the "Asterix et Extraterrestres"-banner, was taken with a 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tuscon, Arizona. This false-color image of the Horsehead nebula was created by combining images taken through different color filters.

The Horsehead nebula is one of the most popular celestial targets for the telescopes of astronomers. Thus, the nebula was voted to be observed by the Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate the 11th anniversary of its launch. The image described on this site was also published on the occasion of Hubble's anniversary.

  1. parsec: parallax second (1 parsec = 3.257 light-years)
  2. light-year: distance that light can travel in one year in a vacuum (1 light-year = 9.435 x 1012 km = 5.88 x 1012 miles)
Image Credit: T.A.Rector (NOAO/AURA/NSF) and Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA/NASA)
All Asterix drawings on this homepage: Albert Uderzo - © Les Editions ALBERT-RENÉ, GOSCINNY-UDERZO