Astronomy Picture of the Day – Colorful Clouds Near Rho Ophiuchi

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.

2015 July 6

Colorful Clouds Near Rho Ophiuchi
Image Credit & Copyright: Markus Noller (Deep-Sky-Images)

 

Explanation: Why is the sky near Antares and Rho Ophiuchi so colorful? The colors result from a mixture of objects and processes. Fine dust illuminated from the front by starlight produces blue reflection nebulae. Gaseous clouds whose atoms are excited by ultraviolet starlight produce reddish emission nebulae. Backlit dust clouds block starlight and so appear dark. Antares, a red supergiant and one of the brighter stars in the night sky, lights up the yellow-red clouds on the lower center of the featured image. Rho Ophiuchi lies at the center of the blue nebula on the left. The distant globular cluster M4 is visible to the upper right of center. These star clouds are even more colorful than humans can see, emitting light across the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 6th

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.

2012 January 6
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

A Wide Field Image of the Galactic Center
Image Credit & Copyright: Ivan Eder 

 

Explanation: From Sagittarius to Scorpius, the central Milky Way is a truly beautiful part of planet Earth’s night sky. The gorgeous region is captured in this wide field image spanning about 30 degrees. The impressive cosmic vista, taken in 2010, shows off intricate dust lanes, bright nebulae, and star clusters scattered through our galaxy’s rich central starfields. Starting on the left, look for the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae, the Cat’s Paw, while on the right lies the Pipe dark nebula, and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi and Antares (right). The actual center of our Galaxy lies about 26,000 light years.