Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Close Up of Enceladus Tiger Stripes
Could life exist beneath Enceladus? A recent flyby of Saturn's icy moon has bolstered this fascinating idea. Two years ago, images from the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn led astronomers to the undeniable...
Weak Lensing Distorts the Universe
Is the distant universe really what it appears to be? Astronomers hope not. Intervening dark matter, which is normally invisible, might show its presence by distorting images originating in the distant universe, much the way an old window distorts images originating on the other side.
Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841
Some 50 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk with tightly wound spiral arms.
Across the Universe
How far can you see? Even the faintest stars visible to the eye are merely hundreds or thousands of light-years distant, all well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. Of course, if you know where to look you can also spot the Andromeda Galaxy as a pale, fuzzy cloud, around 2.5 million light-years away.
The N44 Complex
A truly giant complex of emission nebulae, N44 is about 1,000 light-years across. It shines in southern skies as a denizen of our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, 170,000 light-years away.
The NGC 3576 Nebula
An intriguing and beautiful nebula, NGC 3576 drifts through the Sagittarius arm of our spiral Milky Way Galaxy. Within the region, episodes of star formation are thought to contribute to the complex and suggestive shapes. Powerful winds from the nebula's embedded, young, massive stars shape the looping filaments.
Galaxy Wars: M81 versus M82
On the left, surrounded by blue spiral arms, is spiral galaxy M81. On the right marked by red gas and dust clouds, is irregular galaxy M82. This stunning vista shows these two mammoth galaxies locked in gravitational combat, as they have been for the past billion years.
Saturn and Titan from Cassini
Spectacular vistas of Saturn and its moon continue to be recorded by the Cassini spacecraft. Launched from Earth in 1997, robotic Cassini entered orbit around Saturn in 2004 and has revolutionized much of humanity's knowledge of Saturn, its expansive and complex rings, and it many old and battered moons.
Molecular Cloud Barnard 68
Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars.
Cat s Eye Hubble Remix
Staring across interstellar space, the alluring Cat's Eye Nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth. One of the most famous planetary nebulae in the sky, the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) is over half a light-year across and represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star.