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.
2016 December 29
Explanation: An alluring sight in southern skies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here through narrowband filters. The filters are designed to transmit only light emitted by ionized sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Ionized by energetic starlight, the atoms emit their characteristic light as electrons are recaptured and the atom transitions to a lower energy state. As a result, this false colour image of the LMC seems covered with shell-shaped clouds of ionized gas surrounding massive, young stars. Sculpted by the strong stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation, the glowing clouds, dominated by emission from hydrogen, are known as H II (ionized hydrogen) regions. Itself composed of many overlapping shells, the Tarantula Nebula is the large star forming region at top centre. A satellite of our Milky Way Galaxy, the LMC is about 15,000 light-years across and lies a mere 180,000 light-years away in the constellation Dorado.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.