Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)The Quintuplet Star Cluster
Bright clusters of stars form and disperse near the center of our Galaxy. Four million years ago the Quintuplet Cluster, pictured above, formed and is now slowly dispersing. The Quintuplet Cluster is located within 100 light-years of the Galactic center, and is home to the brightest star yet cataloged in our Galaxy: the Pistol Star.
Io in True Color
The strangest moon in the Solar System is bright yellow. This recently released picture, showing Io's true colors, was taken in July by the Galileo spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter. Io's colors derive from sulfur and molten silicate rock. The unusual surface of Io is kept very young by its system of active volcanoes.
Interstellar Dust Bunnies of NGC 891
What is going on in NGC 891? This galaxy appeared previously to be very similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy: a spiral galaxy seen nearly edge-on. However, recent high-resolution images of NGC 891's dust show unusual filamentary patterns extending well away from its Galactic disk.
Mercury Astronauts and a Redstone
Space suited project Mercury astronauts John H. Glenn, Virgil I. Grissom, and Alan B. Shepard Jr. (left to right) are posing in front of a Redstone rocket in this vintage 1961 NASA publicity photo. Project Mercury was the first U.S. program designed to put humans in space.
M3: Half A Million Stars
This immense ball of half a million stars older than the sun lies 30,000 light-years above the plane of our Galaxy. Cataloged as M3 (and NGC 5272), it is one of about 250 globular star clusters which roam our galactic halo.
The Incredible Expanding Cats Eye
Watch closely. As this animation blinks between two Hubble Space Telescope images of NGC 6543 - the first from 1994 and the second from 1997 - the intricate filaments of this nebula are seen to shift. The shift is due to the actual expansion of this gaseous shroud shed by a dying star!
The Big Corona
Most photographs don't adequately portray the magnificence of the Sun's corona. Seeing the corona first-hand during a total solar eclipse is best. The human eye can adapt to see features and extent that photographic film usually cannot. Welcome, however, to the digital age.
The Colorful Orion Nebula
The Great Nebula in Orion is a colorful place. Visible to the unaided eye as a fuzzy patch in the constellation of Orion, this image taken with the Big Throughput Camera shows the Orion Nebula to be a busy neighborhood of young stars, hot gas, and dark dust.
Supernova Remnant N132D in X Rays
Thousands of years after a star explodes, an expanding remnant may still glow brightly. Such is the case with N132D, a supernova remnant located in the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. The expanding shell from this explosion now spans 80 light-years and has swept up about 600 Suns worth of mass.
Stonehenge: Ancient Monument to the Sun
Stonehenge consists of large carved stones assembled about 4000 years ago. Long before modern England was established, ancient inhabitants somehow moved 25 ton rocks nearly 20 miles to complete it. From similar constructs...