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.

2003 January 04
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A Magellanic Starfield
Credit: Sally Heap, Eliot Malumuth, Phil Plait , Hubble Heritage Team, NASA

Explanation: Stars of many types and colors are visible in this Hubble Space Telescope close-up of a starfield in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Over 10,000 stars are visible -- the brightest of which are giant stars. Were our Sun at the distance of these stars, about 170,000 light-years, it would hardly be discernable. By contrast, only a few thousand individual stars can be seen in the night sky with the unaided eye, and many of these lie within only a few hundred light-years. So typically, the light we see from nearby stars left during the age of our great-grand-parents, while light from LMC stars started its journey well before the dawn of recorded human history.

Tomorrow's picture: ... to orbit

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