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.

2011 January 12
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Seagull Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Michael Sidonio

Explanation: This broad expanse of glowing gas and dust presents a bird-like visage to astronomers from planet Earth, suggesting its popular moniker - The Seagull Nebula. This portrait of the cosmic bird covers a 1.6 degree wide swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. Of course, the region includes objects with other catalog designations: notably NGC 2327, a compact, dusty emission region with an embedded massive star that forms the bird's head (aka the Parrot Nebula, above center). IC 2177 forms the sweeping arc of the seagull's wings. Dominated by the reddish glow of atomic hydrogen, the complex of gas and dust clouds with bright young stars spans over 100 light-years at an estimated 3,800 light-year distance.

View this page (with external links) online at
http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap110112.html.

Tomorrow's picture: overlooked in Leo


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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman. Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.

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