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 November 2
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NGC 7380: The Wizard Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Rolf Geissinger

Explanation: What powers are being wielded in the Wizard Nebula? Gravitation strong enough to form stars, and stellar winds and radiations powerful enough to create and dissolve towers of gas. Located only 8,000 light years away, the Wizard nebula, pictured above, surrounds developing open star cluster NGC 7380. Visually, the interplay of stars, gas, and dust has created a shape that appears to some like a fictional medieval sorcerer. The active star forming region spans 100 about light years, making it appear larger than the angular extent of the Moon. The Wizard Nebula can be located with a small telescope toward the constellation of the King of Aethiopia (Cepheus). Although the nebula may last only a few million years, some of the stars being formed may outlive our Sun.

Imagine: What shape(s) do you see in the nebula?
Tomorrow's picture: ice cream melts

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