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.

August 16, 1996

NGC 604: Giant Stellar Nursery in M33
Credit: H. Yang (UIUC), J. Hester (ASU), NASA

Explanation: The nebula cataloged as NGC 604 is a giant star forming region, 1500 light years across, in the nearby spiral galaxy, M33. Seen here in a snapshot by the Hubble Space Telescope, over 200 newly formed, hot, massive, stars are scattered within a cavern-like, gaseous, interstellar cloud. The stars irradiate the gas with energetic ultraviolet light stripping electrons from atoms and exciting them - producing a characteristic nebular glow. The details of the nebula's structure hold clues to the mysteries of star formation and its effect on the evolution of galaxies.

Tomorrow's picture: A Meteorite From Mars

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