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 28, 1997
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Open Cluster M50
Credit and Copyright:
S. Kohle, T. Credner et al.

Explanation: Many stars form in clusters. Two types of star clusters are visible in our Milky Way Galaxy: open clusters and globular clusters. Open clusters like M50, shown above, typically contain hundreds of stars, many of which are bright, young, and blue. In fact, most of the bright blue stars in the above picture belong to M50, but most of the dimmer, red stars do not. M50 lies about 3000 light-years from Earth and is about 20 light years across. Open clusters tend to have irregular shapes and are mostly found in the plane of our Galaxy.

Tomorrow's picture: NGC 869 & NGC 884: A Double Open Cluster

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