Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

Today's Picture: June 27, 1995
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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An Ultraviolet Image of Messier 101
Picture Credit: NASA, Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT)

Explanation: This giant spiral galaxy, Messier 101 (M101), was photographed by the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during the Astro-2 mission (March 2 - 18, 1995). The image has been computer processed so that the colors represent the intensity of ultraviolet light. Pictures of galaxies like this one show mainly clouds of gas containing newly formed stars many times more massive than the sun, which glow strongly in ultraviolet light. In contrast, visible light pictures of galaxies tend to be dominated by the yellow and red light of older stars. Ultraviolet light, invisible to the human eye, is blocked by ozone in the atmosphere so ultraviolet pictures of celestial objects must be taken from space.

For more information see NASA Astro-2 UIT release.

We keep an archive of previous Astronomy Pictures of the Day.
Astronomy Picture of the Day is brought to you by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell . Original material on this page is copyrighted to Robert J. Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell.