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.

2014 December 3
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Sharpless 249 and the Jellyfish Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: César Blanco González

Explanation: Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring telescopic mosaic. The scene is anchored right and left by two bright stars, Mu and Eta Geminorum, at the foot of the celestial twin while the Jellyfish Nebula is the brighter arcing ridge of emission with dangling tentacles below and right of center. In fact, the cosmic jellyfish is part of bubble-shaped supernova remnant IC 443, the expanding debris cloud from a massive star that exploded. Light from the explosion first reached planet Earth over 30,000 years ago. Like its cousin in astrophysical waters the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, the Jellyfish Nebula is known to harbor a neutron star, the remnant of the collapsed stellar core. An emission nebula cataloged as Sharpless 249 fills the field at the upper left. The Jellyfish Nebula is about 5,000 light-years away. At that distance, this narrowband composite image would be about 300 light-years across.

Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space

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