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.

2006 March 14
See Explanation. Go online for the highest resolution available.

CG4: A Ruptured Cometary Globule
Credit & Copyright: T. A. Rector (U. Alaska), T. Abbott, NOAO, AURA, NSF

Explanation: Can a gas cloud eat a galaxy? It's not even close. The odd looking "creature" in the center of the above photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in reality they are very much different. Globules are frequently the birthplaces of stars, and many show very young stars in their heads. The reason for the rupture in the head of this object is not completely known. The galaxy to the left of center is huge, very far in the distance, and only placed near CG4 by chance superposition.

View this page (with external links) online at
http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap060314.html.


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