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.

2004 October 6
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N11: A Giant Ring of Emission Nebulas
Credit & Copyright: C. Smith & S. Points, CTIO, AURA, NOAO, NSF

Explanation: How did this unusually large nebula form? One of the largest nebulas yet detected is actually a complex ring of emission nebulas connected by glowing filaments. The unusual network, known as N11, spans over 1000 light years and is a prominent structure of the Large Magellanic Cloud, the largest satellite galaxy of our Milky Way Galaxy. In the center of the above image is open star cluster LH9, also known as NGC 1760, composed of about 50 bright blue stars that emit radiation that has eroded a hole in their surroundings. A leading hypothesis for the formation of N11 is shells of successive generations of stars being formed further out from the center. The bright region just above center is N11B, an explosive domain where stars are being formed even today.

Tomorrow's picture: moon lightning

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