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.

2012 October 24
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NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda
Image Credit & Copyright: Bob and Janice Fera (Fera Photography)

Explanation: The large stellar association cataloged as NGC 206 is nestled within the dusty arms of neighboring spiral galaxy Andromeda (M31), 2.5 million light-years distant. Seen near the center of this gorgeous close-up of the southwestern extent of Andromeda's disk, the bright, blue stars of NGC 206 indicate its youth. Its youngest massive stars are less than 10 million years old. Much larger than the clusters of young stars in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy known as open or galactic clusters, NGC 206 spans about 4,000 light-years. That's comparable in size to the giant stellar nurseries NGC 604 in nearby spiral M33 and the Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Tomorrow's picture: a star transformed

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