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 December 8
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Sh2-239: Celestial Impasto
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona

Explanation: The cosmic brush of star formation composed this alluring mix of dust and dark nebulae. Cataloged as Sh2-239 and LDN 1551, the region lies near the southern end of the Taurus molecular cloud complex some 450 light-years distant. Stretching for nearly 3 light-years, the canvas abounds with signs of embedded young stellar objects driving dynamic outflows into the surrounding medium. Included near the center of the frame, a compact, tell-tale red jet of shocked hydrogen gas is near the position of infrared source IRS5, known to be a system of protostars surrounded by dust disks. Just below it are the broader, brighter wings of HH 102, one of the region's many Herbig-Haro objects, nebulosities associated with newly born stars. Estimates indicate that the star forming LDN 1551 region contains a total amount of material equivalent to about 50 times the mass of the Sun.

View this page (with external links) online at
http://apod.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap111208.html.

Tomorrow's picture: one morning's eclipse


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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman. Specific rights apply.
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