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.

2023 July 26
A sprawling nebula is pictured with gold tinted gas covering the 
top, blue, the middle, and dark brown the bottom. Stars cover the frame
but are most prominent near the bottom.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

IC 4628: The Prawn Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Daniel Stern

Explanation: South of Antares, in the tail of the nebula-rich constellation Scorpius, lies emission nebula IC 4628. Nearby hot, massive stars, millions of years young, irradiate the nebula with invisible ultraviolet light, stripping electrons from atoms. The electrons eventually recombine with the atoms to produce the visible nebular glow, dominated by the red emission of hydrogen. At an estimated distance of 6,000 light-years, the region shown is about 250 light-years across, spanning over three full moons on the sky. The nebula is also cataloged as Gum 56 for Australian astronomer Colin Stanley Gum, but seafood-loving deep sky-enthusiasts might know this cosmic cloud as the Prawn Nebula. The graceful color image is a new astronomical composition taken over several nights in April from Rio Hurtado, Chile.

Tomorrow's picture: galaxies in the river

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