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 May 10
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Messier 77
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, André van der Hoeven

Explanation: Face-on spiral galaxy M77 lies a mere 47 million light-years away toward the aquatic constellation Cetus. At that estimated distance, the gorgeous island universe is about 100 thousand light-years across. Also known as NGC 1068, its compact and very bright core is well studied by astronomers exploring the mysteries of supermassive black holes in active Seyfert galaxies. M77 is also seen at x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, and radio wavelengths. But this sharp visible light image based on Hubble data follows its winding spiral arms traced by obscuring dust clouds and red-tinted star forming regions close in to the galaxy's luminous core.

Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend

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