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 21
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Starburst Galaxy M94
Credit & Copyright: Hillary Mathis & N.A.Sharp (NOAO), AURA, NSF

Explanation: What could cause the center of M94 to be so bright? Spiral galaxy M94 has a ring of newly formed stars surrounding its nucleus, giving it not only an unusual appearance but also a strong interior glow. A leading progenitor hypothesis holds that an elongated knot of stars known as a bar rotates in M94 and has generated a burst of star formation in the form of an outward moving ring. M94, pictured above digitally sharpened, spans about 30,000 light years, lies about 15 million light years away, and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of Canes Venatici.

Tomorrow's picture: moonlighting

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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