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 4, 1999
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Hot Gas and Dark Matter
Credit: Richard Mushotzky (GSFC/NASA), ROSAT, ESA, NASA

Explanation: Is the gravity of the galaxies seen in this image high enough to contain the glowing hot gas? Superposed on an optical picture of a group of galaxies is an image taken in X-ray light. This picture, taken by ROSAT, shows confined hot gas highlighted in false red color, and provides clear evidence that the gravity exerted in groups and clusters of galaxies exceeds all the individual component galaxies combined. The extra gravity is attributed to dark matter, the nature and abundance of which is one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy today.

Tomorrow's picture: The Launch of STARDUST

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