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.

December 13, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

A Magellanic Starfield
Credit: Sally Heap (NASA/ GSFC) et al. & the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/ STScI/ NASA)

Explanation: Stars of many types and colors are visible in this Hubble Space Telescope vista of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). Over 10,000 stars are visible -- the brightest of which are giant stars. Were our Sun 170,000 light-years distant and among these stars, it would hardly be discernable. By contrast, only a few thousand stars are individually visible at night with the unaided eye, and many of these lie within only a few hundred light-years. Typically, the light we see from nearby stars left during the age of our great-grand-parents, while light from LMC stars started its journey before the dawn of recorded human history.

Tomorrow's picture: Runaway Star Clouds

< 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.