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.
2010 July 19
Explanation: A Dark River of dust seems to run from our Galactic Centre, then pool into a starfield containing photogenic sky wonders. Scrolling right will reveal many of these objects including (can you find?) the bright orange star Antares, a blue(-eyed) horsehead nebula, the white globular star cluster M4, the bright blue star system Rho Ophiuchi, the dark brown Pipe nebula, the red Lagoon nebula, the red and blue Trifid nebula, the red Cat's Paw Nebula, and the multicoloured but still important centre of our Galaxy. This wide view captures in exquisite detail about 50 degrees of the nighttime sky, 100 times the size of the full Moon, covering constellations from the Archer (Sagittarius) through the Snake Holder (Ophiuchus), to the Scorpion (Scorpius). The Dark River itself can be identified as the brown dust lane connected to Antares, and spans about 100 light years. Since the Dark River dust lane lies only about 500 light years away, it only appears as a bridge to the much more distant Galactic Centre, that actually lies about 25,000 light years farther away.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.