December 2 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.

2021 December 2

NGC 6822: Barnard’s Galaxy

Image Credit & Copyright: Dietmar HagerEric Benson

Explanation: Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory, flaunting their young, bright, blue star clusters in beautiful, symmetric spiral arms. But small galaxies form stars too, like nearby NGC 6822, also known as Barnard’s Galaxy. Beyond the rich starfields in the constellation Sagittarius, NGC 6822 is a mere 1.5 million light-years away, a member of our Local Group of galaxies. A dwarf irregular galaxy similar to the Small Magellanic Cloud, NGC 6822 is about 7,000 light-years across. Brighter foreground stars in our Milky Way have a spiky appearance. Behind them, Barnard’s Galaxy is seen to be filled with young blue stars and mottled with the telltale pinkish hydrogen glow of star forming regions in this deep color composite image.