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.

2006 February 13
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The N44 Emission Nebula
Credit & Copyright: WFI, MPG/ESO 2.2-m Telescope, La Silla, ESO

Explanation: N44 is one of the largest and most intricate nebulas in this part of the universe. Located in our galactic neighbor the Large Magellanic Cloud, N44 houses numerous massive bright stars, lengthy lanes of dark dust, and vast clouds of hydrogen gas that glows red. The red color of the N44 emission nebula comes from pervasive hydrogen atoms re-acquiring electrons that were knocked away by energetic light from massive stars. The central stars also appear to have somehow created the huge superbubble visible in the lower left. N44, pictured above, spans about 1,000 light years and lies about 170,000 light years distant.

Tomorrow's picture: high heart

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