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 September 2
See Explanation. Go online for the highest resolution available.

Dusty Spiral M66
Credit: M. Neeser (Univ.-Sternwarte Munchen), P. Barthel (Kapteyn Astron. Institute), H. Heyer, H. Boffin (ESO), ESO

Explanation: When morning twilight came to the Paranal Observatory in Chile, astronomers Mark Neeser and Peter Barthel interrupted their search for faint quasars, billions of light-years away. And just for a moment, they used Very Large Telescopes at the European Southern Observatory to appreciate the beauty of the nearby Universe. One result was this stunning view of beautiful spiral galaxy M66, a mere 35 million light-years away. About 100 thousand light-years across with striking dust lanes and bright star clusters along sweeping spiral arms, M66 is well known to astronomers as a member of the Leo Triplet of galaxies. Gravitational interactions with its neighborhood galaxies have likely influenced the shape of dusty spiral M66.

View this page (with external links) online at
http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap060902.html.


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