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 10
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 Reddening of M71
Image Credit & Copyright: Bob Franke

Explanation: Now known to be a globular star cluster at the tender age of 10 billion years, M71 is a mere 13,000 light-years away within the narrow boundaries of the faint constellation Sagitta. Close to the plane of the Milky Way galaxy in planet Earth's sky, its 10,000 or so member stars are gathered into a region about 27 light-years across near the center of this color composite view. In fact, the line-of-sight to M71 passes along the galactic plane through much intervening diffuse interstellar dust. The dust dims starlight and scatters blue light more efficiently, masking the brightness of M71's stars and shifting true star colors toward the red. How much are the star colors shifted? Slide your cursor over the image (or follow this link) to use an estimate of the dust reddening or galactic extinction to correct the star colors in M71. Corrections to the brightness and colors of M71 member stars are needed to measure the cluster's distance and age using a Color-Magnitude diagram.

Tomorrow's picture: moon dog night

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