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 September 29
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NGC 5905 and 5908
Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip

Explanation: These two beautiful galaxies, NGC 5905 (left) and NGC 5908 lie about 140 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Draco. Separated by about 500,000 light-years, the pair are actually both spiral galaxies and nicely illustrate the striking contrasts in appearance possible when viewing spirals from different perspectives. Seen face-on, NGC 5905 is clearly a spiral galaxy with bright star clusters tracing arms that wind outward from a prominent central bar. Oriented edge-on to our view, the spiral nature of NGC 5908 is revealed by a bright nucleus and dark band of obscuring dust characteristic of a spiral galaxy's disk. In fact, NGC 5908 is similar in appearance to the well studied edge-on spiral galaxy M104 - The Sombrero Galaxy.

Tomorrow's picture: Stereo Saturday

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