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.

January 5, 1996
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The Toby Jug Nebula
Credit: Anglo-Australian Telescope photograph by David Malin
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: Is the only thing unusual about this nebula its shape? Pictured above is the IC 2220 - the Toby Jug Nebula - a reflection nebula surrounding a normal red giant star. Reflection nebulae shine by light reflected from the central star(s). This nebula appears to have been created from the current phase of mass-loss from the central star. Normal gas and dust compose the nebula. The nebula's peculiar but photogenic "bi-polar, bi-conical" shape, however, continue to make it a popular object of study.

Tomorrow's picture: Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy M32

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