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.

January 19, 1997
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From Eagle's EGGs A Star Is Born
Credit: J. Hester, P. Scowen (ASU), HST, NASA

Explanation: Perhaps the most famous astronomical image in recent years reveals newborn stars upon pillars of gas and dust - uncovered as researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope to explore the Eagle Nebula in 1995. This stunning picture provides a first hand glimpse of star birth as evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) are captured emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen gas and dust. These pillars, dubbed "elephant trunks," are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas gravitationally contracts to form stars. At each pillars' end, the intense radiation of bright young stars causes low density gas to boil away, leaving stellar nurseries of dense EGGs exposed.

Tomorrow's picture: Earth Nears Asteroid Toutatis

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.