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 November 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Our Galaxy's Central Molecular Zone
Credit: A. Ginsburg (U. Colorado - Boulder) et al., BGPS Team, GLIMPSE II Team

Explanation: The central region of our Milky Way Galaxy is a mysterious and complex place. Pictured here in radio and infrared light, the galaxy's central square degree is highlighted in fine detail. The region is known as the Central Molecular Zone. While much of the extended emission is due to dense gas laced with molecules, also seen are emission nebulas lit up by massive young stars, glowing supernova remnants, and the curving Galactic Center Radio Arc in purple. The identity and root cause for many other features remains unknown. Besides a massive black hole named Sgr A*, the Galactic Center houses the galaxy's most active star forming region. This image is not just interesting scientifically. It's esthetic beauty won first prize this year in the AUI/NRAO Image Contest.

Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space

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