Due to the government shutdown, information on this website may not be up to date. For information about available government services, visit USA.gov.

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.

2009 February 5
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

NGC 604: X-rays from a Giant Stellar Nursery
Credit: X-ray: NASA / CXC / R. Tuellmann (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA) et al.;
Optical: NASA/AURA/STScI

Explanation: Some 3 million light-years distant in nearby spiral galaxy M33, giant stellar nursery NGC 604 is about 1,300 light-years across, or nearly 100 times the size of the Orion Nebula. In fact, among the star forming regions within the Local Group of galaxies, NGC 604 is second in size only to 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This space-age color composite of X-ray data (in blue hues) from the Chandra Observatory, and Hubble optical data shows that NGC 604's cavernous bubbles and cavities are filled with a hot, tenuous, X-ray emitting gas. Intriguingly, NGC 604 itself is divided by a wall of relatively cool gas. On the western (right) side of the nebula, measurements indicate that material is likely heated to X-ray temperatures by the energetic winds from a cluster of about 200 young, massive stars. On the eastern side the X-ray filled cavities seem to be older, suggesting supernova explosions from the end of massive star evolution contribute to their formation.


Tomorrow's picture: 0.49 seconds


< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.