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.

2008 March 27
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The N44 Complex
Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman, Macedon Ranges Observatory

Explanation: A truly giant complex of emission nebulae, N44 is about 1,000 light-years across. It shines in southern skies as a denizen of our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, 170,000 light-years away. Winds and intense radiation from hot, young, luminous stars in N44 excite and sculpt filaments and streamers of the glowing nebular gas. But supernovae - the death explosions of the massive short lived stars - have also likely contributed to the region's enormous, blown-out shapes. The cluster of young stars seen near the center lies in a superbubble nearly 250 light-years across. This detailed, false-color view of the intricate structures codes emission from hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur in shades of blue and green.

Tomorrow's picture: far sighted

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