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.

March 30, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Dusty Galaxy Centaurus A
NOAO, Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory

Explanation: One of the most unusual galaxies known, Centaurus A, is pictured above. Cen A is marked by dramatic dust lanes that run across the galaxy's center. These dust lanes are so thick they almost completely obscure the galaxy's center in visible light. Our Milky Way Galaxy contains dust, but not in the same proportion. Cen A is also unusual compared to a normal galaxy because it contains a higher proportion of young blue stars, is a very strong source of radio emission, and has a unique structure. Cen A is thought to be the result of the collision of two normal galaxies.

Tomorrow's picture: NGC 3242: The 'Ghost of Jupiter' Planetary Nebula

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.