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 22
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

M11: The Wild Duck Cluster
Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT), Hawaiian Starlight, CFHT

Explanation: Many stars like our Sun were formed in open clusters. The above pictured open cluster, M11, contains thousands of stars and is just over five thousand light years distant. The stars in this cluster all formed together about 250 million years ago. The bright young stars in M11 appear blue. Open clusters, also called galactic clusters, contain fewer and younger stars than globular clusters. Also unlike globular clusters, open clusters are generally confined to the plane of our Galaxy. M11 is visible with binoculars towards the constellation of Scutum.

Tomorrow's picture: not a shuttle launch

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& NASA SEU Edu. Forum
& Michigan Tech. U.