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.

2013 January 22
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The Cygnus Wall of Star Formation
Credit & Copyright: Nick Pavelchak

Explanation: The North America nebula on the sky can do what the North America continent on Earth cannot -- form stars. Specifically, in analogy to the Earth-confined continent, the bright part that appears as Central America and Mexico is actually a hot bed of gas, dust, and newly formed stars known as the Cygnus Wall. The above image shows the star forming wall lit and eroded by bright young stars, and partly hidden by the dark dust they have created. The part of the North America nebula (NGC 7000) shown spans about 15 light years and lies about 1,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus).

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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