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 30
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The Bubble and M52
Credit & Copyright: Tony Hallas

Explanation: To the eye, this cosmic composition nicely balances the Bubble Nebula at the upper right with open star cluster M52. The pair would be lopsided on other scales, though. Embedded in a complex of interstellar dust and gas and blown by the winds from a single, massive O-type star, the Bubble Nebula (aka NGC 7635) is a mere 10 light-years wide. On the other hand, M52 is a rich open cluster of around a thousand stars. The cluster is about 25 light-years across. Seen toward the northern boundary of Cassiopeia, distance estimates for the Bubble Nebula and associated cloud complex are around 11,000 light-years, while star cluster M52 lies nearly 5,000 light-years away.

Tomorrow's picture: mostly ghostly

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