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.

2005 September 23
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Portrait of RY Tauri
Credit: Gemini Observatory, Club d'astronomie de Dorval, S. Cote (HIA), T. Rector (U. Alaska)

Explanation: A star emerges from its natal cloud of gas and dust in this tantalizing portrait of RY Tauri, a small stellar nursery at the edge of the Taurus molecular cloud, a mere 450 light-years away. Illuminating a region that spans about 2/3 of a light-year, the youthful, central star is large, cool, and known to vary in brightness. Still collapsing, in a few million years the star's winds will likely clear out the gas and dust clouds, as it settles down to become a steady main sequence star like the Sun. What remains could well include a planetary system. The image data for RY Tauri is from the Gemini Observatory, on Mauna Kea, Hawaii -- based on observations proposed by the Astronomy Club of Dorval, Quebec.

Tomorrow's picture: Cat's Eye

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