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.
August 11, 1996
The Snake Nebula in Ophiuchus
Credit and Copyright: B. Wallis and R. Provin
Explanation: What slithers there? The dark curly lanes visible in part of the constellation Ophiuchus belong to the Snake Nebula. The Snake Nebula is a series of dark absorption clouds. Interstellar dust grains - composed predominantly of carbon - absorb visible starlight and reradiate much of it in the infrared. Infrared is a band of light so red humans can't see it. This absorption causes stars in the background to be blocked from our view - and hence the appearance of noticeable voids on the sky.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC