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 February 13
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The Eagle Nebula from CFHT
Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT), Hawaiian Starlight, CFHT

Explanation: Bright blue stars are still forming in the dark pillars of the Eagle Nebula. Made famous by a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, the Eagle Nebula shows the dramatic process of star formation. To the upper right of the nebula in the above picture lies the heart of the open cluster M16. The bright blue stars of M16 have been continually forming over the past 5 million years, most recently in the famous central gas and dust pillars known as elephant trunks. Light takes about 7000 years to reach us from M16, which spans about 20 light years and can be seen with binoculars toward the constellation of Serpens.

Tomorrow's picture: have a heart

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