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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 September 14
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Heart and Soul Nebulas
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey, ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator;
Color Composite: Davide De Martin (Skyfactory)

Explanation: Is the heart and soul of our Galaxy located in Cassiopeia? Possibly not, but that is where two bright emission nebulas nicknamed Heart and Soul can be found. The Heart Nebula, officially dubbed IC 1805 and visible in the above zoomable view on the right, has a shape reminiscent of a classical heart symbol. Both nebulas shine brightly in the red light of energized hydrogen. Several young open clusters of stars populate the image and are visible above in blue, including the nebula centers. Light takes about 6,000 years to reach us from these nebulas, which together span roughly 300 light years. Studies of stars and clusters like those found in the Heart and Soul Nebulas have focussed on how massive stars form and how they affect their environment.

Note: Free Astronomy Course Taught Online by an APOD Editor

Tomorrow's picture: hubble ribbon


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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & >Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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