March 18 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.

2022 March 18

A Filament in Monoceros

Image Credit & Copyright: Giorgio Ferrari

Explanation: Bluish reflection nebulae seem to fill this dusty expanse. The sharp telescopic frame spans over 1 degree on the sky toward the faint but fanciful constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn. Seen within the Monoceros R1 cloud complex some 2,500 light-years away, bluish IC 447 is on the left, joined by a long dark filament of dust to IC 446 at lower right. Embedded in IC 447 are young, massive blue stars much hotter than the Sun, whose light is reflected by the cosmic cloud of star stuff. Observations reveal that IC 446 also contains a young stellar object, a massive star still in an early stage of evolution. The dark filament of dust and molecular gas joining the two star-forming regions is over 15 light-years long.