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.

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

Water in Orion
Credit: Anglo-Australian Telescope photograph by David Malin
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: Is Orion all wet? Recent observations have confirmed that water molecules now exist in the famous Orion Nebula, and are still forming. The Orion Nebula (M42, shown above) is known to be composed mostly of hydrogen gas, with all other atoms and molecules being comparatively rare. The nebula is so vast, though, that even the measured minuscule production rate creates enough water to fill Earth's oceans 60 times over every day, speculate discoverers led by M. Harwit (Cornell). The water that composes comets, the oceans of Earth, and even humans may have been created in a cloud like the Orion Nebula.

Tomorrow's picture: A Recipe for Planets

< Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD >

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.