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.

2023 July 21
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Galactic Cirrus: Mandel Wilson 9
Image Credit & Copyright: Gabriel Rodrigues Santos

Explanation: The combined light of stars along the Milky Way are reflected by these cosmic dust clouds that soar 300 light-years or so above the plane of our galaxy. Known to some as integrated flux nebulae and commonly found at high galactic latitudes, the dusty galactic cirrus clouds are faint. But they can be traced over large regions of the sky toward the North and South Galactic poles. Along with the reflection of starlight, studies indicate the dust clouds produce a faint reddish luminescence as interstellar dust grains convert invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Also capturing nearby Milky Way stars and distant background galaxies, this remarkably deep, wide-field image explores a complex of faint galactic cirrus known as Mandel Wilson 9. It spans over three degrees across planet Earth's skies toward the far southern constellation Apus.

Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend

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