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 27
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Melotte 15 in the Heart
Image Credit & Copyright: Jimmy Walker

Explanation: Cosmic clouds seem to form fantastic shapes in the central regions of emission nebula IC 1805. Of course, the clouds are sculpted by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula's newborn star cluster, Melotte 15. About 1.5 million years young, the cluster stars are near the center of this colorful skyscape, along with dark dust clouds in silhouette. Dominated by emission from atomic hydrogen, the telescopic view spans about 30 light-years. But wider field images reveal that IC 1805's simpler, overall outline suggests its popular name - The Heart Nebula. IC 1805 is located along the northern Milky Way, about 7,500 light years distant toward the constellation Cassiopeia.

Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend

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