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 26, 1999
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M17: The Omega Nebula
Credit & Copyright: AURA/ NOAO

Explanation: The Omega Nebula contains glowing gas, dark dust, and some unusually massive stars. Also known as the M17 and the Swan Nebula, the Omega Nebula is about 5000 light-years away, 20 light-years across, and visible with binoculars in the constellation of Sagittarius. A recent epoch of star formation has created some very massive stars that haven't yet had time to self-destruct. Until then, these stars appear very bright and emit light so energetic it breaks up the surrounding gas and dust. The streaks across the bright stars are blemishes caused by the digital camera.

Tomorrow's picture: Hypatia

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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.