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 26
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Cetus Duo M77 and NGC 1055
Image Credit & Copyright: Dieter Willasch (Astro-Cabinet)

Explanation: At the top right, large spiral galaxy NGC 1055 joins spiral Messier 77 in this sharp cosmic view toward the aquatic constellation Cetus. The narrowed, dusty appearance of edge-on spiral NGC 1055 contrasts nicely with the face-on view of M77's bright nucleus and spiral arms. Both over 100,000 light-years across, the pair are dominant members of a small galaxy group about 60 million light-years away. At that estimated distance, M77 is one of the most remote objects in Charles Messier's catalog and is separated from fellow island universe NGC 1055 by at least 500,000 light-years. The field of view is about the size of the full Moon on the sky and includes colorful foreground Milky Way stars (with diffraction spikes) along with more distant background galaxies.

Tomorrow's picture: winter sky

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