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.

August 8, 1998
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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The Cygnus Loop
Credit: J. Hester (ASU), NASA

Explanation: 15,000 years ago a star in the constellation of Cygnus exploded -- the shockwave from this supernova explosion is still expanding into interstellar space! The collision of this fast moving wall of gas with a stationary cloud has heated it causing it to glow in visible as well as high energy radiation, producing the nebula known as the Cygnus Loop (NGC 6960/95). The nebula is located about 2500 light years away. The colors used here indicate emission from different kinds of atoms excited by the shock; oxygen-blue, sulfur-red, and hydrogen-green. This picture was taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 on board the Hubble Space Telescope.

Tomorrow's picture: Shapley 1

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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.