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.

July 27, 1998

N81: Starbirth in the SMC
Credit: M. Heydari-Malayeri (Paris Obs.) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA

Explanation: A very young star cluster has been discovered in a neighboring galaxy. The stars found in this cluster, dubbed N81, are so young and massive that they furiously eject matter and light up the surrounding nebula. The ejected stellar winds combine and interact to sculpt beautiful and complex structures. Visible near the center of the above representative-color picture are two of N81's brightest stars. Just above them lies a dark knot of dust and gas where these massive stars probably originated. The home galaxy of this stellar nursery is the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) located about 200,000 light-years away.

Tomorrow's picture: Impact on Jupiter

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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