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 21, 1998
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Our Dusty Universe
Credit: DIRBE Team, COBE, NASA

Explanation: What's black & white and red all over? Add our universe to this list. Adrift in a vast sea of darkness are not only familiar bright stars but dust that glows predominantly in far-infrared light. This cosmological dust was recently discovered in data taken previously by the COBE satellite, and visible as a diffuse glow visible in the above image. The amount of dust in the universe is important because it is a measure of the number of stars that created it, of the number of stars that are cloaked by it, and of the amount of distortion created in measurements of the distant universe.

Tomorrow's picture: Closer To Beta Pic

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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.