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.

2006 January 11
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The Tadpoles of IC 410
Credit & Copyright: Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Observatory)

Explanation: This close-up view shows a portion of otherwise faint emission nebula IC 410 in striking false-colors. It also shows two remarkable denizens of the glowing gas cloud at the right - the "tadpoles" of IC 410. The picture is a composite of images taken through narrow band filters intended to trace atoms in the nebula. Emission from sulfur atoms is shown in red, hydrogen atoms in green, and oxygen in blue. Partly obscured by foreground dust, the nebula itself surrounds NGC 1893, a young galactic cluster of stars that energizes the glowing gas. Composed of denser, cooler gas and dust, the tadpoles are around 10 light-years long. Sculpted by wind and radiation from the cluster stars, their tails trail away from the cluster's central region. IC 410 lies some 12,000 light-years away, toward the constellation Auriga. At that distance, this image spans about 70 light-years.

Tomorrow's picture: helix

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