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 December 26
See Explanation.
Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an alternate version.
Clicking on the image will bring up the highest resolution version

The Hydrogen Clouds of M33
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona

Explanation: Gorgeous spiral galaxy M33 seems to have more than its fair share of glowing hydrogen gas. A prominent member of the local group of galaxies, M33 is also known as the Triangulum Galaxy and lies about 3 million light-years distant. Its inner 30,000 light-years are shown in this telescopic galaxy portrait that enhances the reddish ionized hydrogen clouds or HII regions. Sprawling along loose spiral arms that wind toward the core, M33's giant HII regions are some of the largest known stellar nurseries, sites of the formation of short-lived but very massive stars. Intense ultraviolet radiation from the luminous, massive stars ionizes the surrounding hydrogen gas and ultimately produces the characteristic red glow. To enhance this image, broadband data was used to produce a color view of the galaxy and combined with narrowband data recorded through a hydrogen-alpha filter, transmitting the light of the strongest hydrogen emission line. To see the monochromatic narrowband data alone, move your cursor over the image, or take this video tour of the hydrogen clouds of M33.

Tomorrow's picture: heart of the heart

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.