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.

2005 January 31
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NGC 2467: From Gas to Stars
Credit & Copyright: T. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage), Gemini Obs., AURA, NSF

Explanation: One might guess that the group of stars on the left is responsible for shaping the gas cloud on the right -- but it probably is not. Observations of many of the stars in the NGC 2467 show them to be more a superposition of loose groups of stars at different distances than a coherent open cluster of stars energizing the nebula. Still, the above image captures various stages of star formation. The stars at the far left have already formed and their birth nebulae have already dispersed. At the lower left lies a very young star that is breaking free of its surrounding birth cocoon of gas. On the right of the above image, a bright wall of bright gas glows as it evaporates from the energy of many newly formed bright stars. Toward the center, deep dark lanes of dust hide parts of the nebula that surely are forming new stars. The 8-meter Gemini South Telescope, perched on a mountaintop in Cerro Pachon, Chile, took the above image. NGC 2467 lies toward the southern constellation of Puppis, with many of the stars being about 17,000 light years distant.

Tomorrow's picture: peach moon

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