Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)A Sky Full Of Hydrogen
Interstellar space is filled with extremely tenuous clouds of gas which are mostly Hydrogen. The neutral hydrogen atom (HI in astronomer's shorthand) consists of 1 proton and 1 electron. The proton and electron spin like tops but can have only two orientations; spin axes parallel or anti-parallel.
Eagle Eggs in M16
Star forming regions known as "EGGs" are uncovered at the end of this giant pillar of gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula (M16). EGGs, short for evaporating gaseous globules, are dense regions of mostly molecular hydrogen gas that fragment and gravitationally collapse to form stars.
Solar Eclipse: A Composite View
Yesterday, the Moon's shadow reached out and touched the Earth, treating a large portion of the Western Hemisphere to an Eclipse of the Sun. This composite image combines pictures of the Sun made from both Earth and space.
A Southern Sky View
From horizon to horizon, the night sky above Loomberah, New South Wales, Australia was photographed by astronomer Gordon Garradd on March 22, 1996. Garradd used a home made all-sky camera with a fish-eye lens, resulting in a circular 200 degree field of view.
The Solar Neighborhood
You are here. The orange dot in the above false-color drawing represents the current location of the Sun among local gas clouds in the spiral Milky Way Galaxy. These gas clouds are so thin that we usually see right through them. Nearly spherical bubbles surround regions of recent star formation.
The Lyman Alpha Forest
We live in a forest. Strewn throughout the universe are "trees" of hydrogen gas that absorb light from distant objects. These gas clouds leave numerous absorption lines in a distant quasar's spectra, together called the Lyman-alpha forest.
M104: The Sombrero Galaxy
What's going on in the center of this spiral galaxy? Named the Sombrero Galaxy for its hat-like resemblance, M104 features a prominent dust lane and a bright halo of stars and globular clusters.
Southern Lights and Shuttle Glow
A background of distant stars, sinuous and spiky bands of Southern Lights (Aurora Australis), and the faint glow of charged plasma (ionized atomic gas) surrounding the Space Shuttle Discovery's engines give this photo from the STS-39 mission an eerie, otherworldly look.
Neptune: Big Blue Giant
This picture was taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 - the only spacecraft ever to visit Neptune. Neptune will be the farthest planet from the Sun until 1999, when the elliptical orbit of Pluto will cause it to once again resume this status.
Hale Bopp: A Continuing Tail
Where is Hale-Bopp now? The Great Comet of 1997, one of the largest and most active comets ever, is outbound about 400 million miles from the sun. Too faint for viewing without telescopes or binoculars, Hale-Bopp is presently positioned in the very southerly constellation of Pictor.