Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2002 November 2
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NGC 604: Giant Stellar Nursery
Credit: H. Yang (UIUC), HST, NASA

Explanation: Scattered within this cavernous nebula, cataloged as NGC 604, are over 200 newly formed hot, massive, stars. At 1,500 light-years across, this expansive cloud of interstellar gas and dust is effectively a giant stellar nursery located some three million light-years distant in the spiral galaxy, M33. The newborn stars irradiate the gas with energetic ultraviolet light stripping electrons from atoms and producing a characteristic nebular glow. The details of the nebula's structure hold clues to the mysteries of star formation and galaxy evolution.

Tomorrow's picture: ISS

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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