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.

2009 May 14
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Elusive Jellyfish Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Gerhard Bachmayer

Explanation: Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring wide-field telescopic view. Flanked by two yellow-tinted stars, Mu and Eta Geminorum, at the foot of a celestial twin, the Jellyfish Nebula is the brighter arcing ridge of emission with dangling tentacles right of center. In fact, the cosmic jellyfish is seen to be part of bubble-shaped supernova remnant IC 443, the expanding debris cloud from a massive star that exploded. Light from the explosion first reached planet Earth over 30,000 years ago. Like its cousin in astrophysical waters the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, IC 443 is known to harbor a neutron star, the remnant of the collapsed stellar core. Emission nebula Sharpless 249 fills the field at the upper left. The Jellyfish Nebula is about 5,000 light-years away. At that distance, this image would be almost 200 light-years across.

Tomorrow's picture: cosmic owl

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