Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)M20: The Trifid Nebula
Unspeakable beauty and unimaginable bedlam can be found together in the Trifid Nebula. Also known as M20, this photogenic nebula is visible with good binoculars in the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy light striking interstellar hydrogen gas.
A Bulls Eye Einstein Ring
Can one galaxy hide behind another? Not in the case of B1938+666. Here the foreground galaxy acts like a huge gravitational lens, pulling the light from the background object around it, keeping it visible.
NGC 3293: A Bright Young Open Cluster
Hot blue stars shine brightly in this beautiful, recently formed galactic or "open" star cluster. Open cluster NGC 3293 is located in the constellation Carina, lies at a distance of about 8000 light years, and has a particularly high abundance of these young bright stars.
Von Braun's Wheel
Orbiting 1,075 miles above the Earth, a 250 foot wide, inflated, reinforced nylon "wheel" was conceived in the early 1950s to function as a navigational aid, meteorological station, military platform, and way station for space exploration by rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun.
Lunar Dust and Duct Tape
Why is the Moon dusty? On Earth, rocks are weathered by wind and water, creating soil and sand. On the Moon, the long history of micrometeorite bombardment has blasted away at the rocky surface creating a layer of powdery lunar soil or regolith. This lunar regolith could be a scientific and industrial bonanza.
This striking pair of galaxies is far, far away ... about 350 million light-years from Earth. Cataloged as AM0500-620, the pair is located in the southern constellation Dorado. The background elliptical and foreground spiral galaxy are representative of two of the three major classes of galaxies which inhabit our Universe.
Planetary Nebula NGC 7027 in Infrared
NGC 7027 is one of the smallest known planetary nebulae. Even so, NGC 7027 is 14,000 times larger than the Earth-Sun distance. Planetary nebula are so named because the first few discovered appeared similar to planets. Planetary nebula are actually dying stars, though, that have recently run out of nuclear fuel.
A Baby Galaxy
What's the farthest galaxy known? The answer keeps changing as astronomers compete to find new galaxies which top the list. The new record holder is now the faint red smudge indicated in the above image by the arrow.
Starbirth in NGC 1808
The center of galaxy NGC 1808 is bursting with new stars, but why? Being a barred spiral galaxy makes NGC 1808 somewhat similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy. But the disk of NGC 1808 (inset) is quite warped, and its center is unusually bright and blue.
Sunspots: Magnetic Depressions
Our Sun has spots! These spots appear dark in photographs like the one above, but in fact sunspots are quite bright - they are just dark compared to the rest of the Sun. Sunspots are about the size of the Earth and frequently occur in groups, as shown above.