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.

2011 January 13
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NGC 3521 Close Up
Credit: Data - Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA Processing - Robert Gendler

Explanation: Gorgeous spiral galaxy NGC 3521 is a mere 35 million light-years distant, toward the constellation Leo. Spanning some 50,000 light-years, its central region is shown in this dramatic image, constructed from data drawn from the Hubble Legacy Archive. The close-up view highlights this galaxy's characteristic multiple, patchy, irregular spiral arms laced with dust and clusters of young, blue stars. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms. A relatively bright galaxy in planet Earth's sky, NGC 3521 is easily visible in small telescopes, but often overlooked by amateur imagers in favor of other Leo spiral galaxies, like M66 and M65.

Tomorrow's picture: quadrantids

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