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 October 31
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Ghost of the Cepheus Flare
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona

Explanation: Spooky shapes seem to haunt this starry expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over 2 light-years across the ghostly nebula and relatively isolated Bok globule, also known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136, is near the center of the field. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation. Even so, if the spooky shapes could talk, they might well wish you a happy Halloween.

Tomorrow's picture: hammer vs. feather

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