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 October 1
See Explanation.
Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an annotated version.
Clicking on the image will bring up the highest resolution version

Carina Pillar and Jets
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

Explanation: This cosmic pillar of gas and dust is nearly 2 light-years wide. The structure lies within one of our galaxy's largest star forming regions, the Carina Nebula, shining in southern skies at a distance of about 7,500 light-years. The pillar's convoluted outlines are shaped by the winds and radiation of Carina's young, hot, massive stars. But the interior of the cosmic pillar itself is home to stars in the process of formation. In fact, placing your cursor over this visible light image will reveal a penetrating near-infrared view of the pillar - now dominated by two, narrow, energetic jets blasting outward from a still hidden infant star. Both visible light and near-infrared images were made using the Hubble Space Telescope's newly installed Wide Field Camera 3.

Tomorrow's picture: skyscape

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