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.

2002 October 2
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 the highest resolution version available.

Star Clouds Toward the Southern Crown
Credit & Copyright: David Malin, UK Schmidt Telescope, AAO

Explanation: The flowing trails of dust toward Corona Australis, the constellation of the Southern Crown, are visible here not because they glow, but because they absorb and reflect. The dust appears bluer when seen near bright stars because it preferentially reflects blue light. The densest knots of dust are so thick that no background stars or interior stars can be seen through them. These knots indicate molecular clouds filled with cool gas where future stars will likely form. The above image spans about 5 degrees while the reflection nebula lies about 500 light-years distant.

Tomorrow's picture: mystery star

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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