Today's APOD is a fantastic image. It is brilliantly beautiful too, and therefore I was not surprised to see that the picture is from 2010.
Resembling looming rain clouds on a stormy day, dark lanes of dust crisscross the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. Hubble's panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust. This image was taken in July 2010 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.
Back in 2010, Hubble would sometimes take such wonderful pictures through many filters that allowed us to see a wide range of colors in the finished image, including red hydrogen alpha nebulas, massive hot blue stars, yellow and orange cool low-mass stars, and dark dust clouds that cause various amounts of reddening.
These days, Hubble is asked to take so many pictures that there is often only time for two filters to be used. It's sad but understandable.
Anyway, doesn't the dust lane of the hapless spiral galaxy crashing into the hungry elliptical galaxy look amazing? See how broad, dark and non-starforming parts of it are. And see how other parts of it burst violently into star formation.
When I first saw this APOD, I didn't take in the whole picture but the details, and you guessed it: The first thing I saw was the extreme region of star formation at upper center. And my first instinctive thought, before I had time to stop myself, was, My goodness, where in the Milky Way do we have that
much star formation?
So, no, I don't know if we have anything like that anywhere in the Milky Way. Perhaps, if someone was able to see our galaxy from outside and see our largest clusters in silhouette against the blackness of space (or at least against the relative dimness of the innermost halo of our galaxy), then the Quintuplet
and the Arches
clusters, NGC 3603
and Westerlund 1
and Westerlund 2
might look impressive. And a few other clusters too, I suppose.
But even so, when I see today's APOD and the explosive star formation in parts of the dust lane, all I can say is wow.
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