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    The California Nebula - What's California doing in space? Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy this cosmic cloud by chance echoes the outline of California on the west coast of the United States. Our own Sun also lies within the Milky Way's Orion Arm only about 1500 light-years from the California Nebula. Also known as NGC 1499 the classic emission nebula is around 100 light-years long. On the featured image the most prominent glow of the California Nebula is the red…

    Reflections on the 1970s - The 1970s are sometimes ignored by astronomers like this beautiful grouping of reflection nebulae in Orion - NGC 1977 NGC 1975 and NGC 1973 - usually overlooked in favor of the substantial glow from the nearby stellar nursery better known as the Orion Nebula. Found along Orion's sword just north of the bright Orion Nebula complex these reflection nebulae are also associated with Orion's giant molecular cloud about 1500 light-years away but are dominated by the…

    Massive Stars in NGC 6357 - Massive stars lie within NGC 6357 an expansive emission nebula complex some 6500 light-years away toward the tail of the constellation Scorpius. In fact positioned near center in this ground-based close-up of NGC 6357 star cluster Pismis 24 includes some of the most massive stars known in the galaxy stars with nearly 100 times the mass of the Sun. The nebula's bright central region also contains dusty pillars of molecular gas likely hiding massive protostars from…

    Stars and Globules in the Running Chicken Nebula - The eggs from this gigantic chicken may form into stars. The featured emission nebula shown in scientifically assigned colors is cataloged as IC 2944 but known as the Running Chicken Nebula for the shape of its greater appearance. Seen toward the top of the image are small dark molecular clouds rich in obscuring cosmic dust. Called Thackeray's Globules for their discoverer these "eggs" are potential sites for the gravitational condensation…

    Elliptical M60 Spiral NGC 4647 - Giant elliptical galaxy M60 and spiral galaxy NGC 4647 do look like an odd couple in this sharp cosmic portrait from the Hubble Space Telescope. But they are found in a region of space where galaxies tend to gather on the eastern side of the nearby Virgo Galaxy Cluster. About 54 million light-years distant bright M60's simpler egg-like shape is created by its randomly swarming older stars while NGC 4647's young blue stars gas and dust are organized into…

    Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300 - Big beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy. NGC 1300 spans over 100000 light-years and the Hubble image reveals striking details of the galaxy's dominant central bar and majestic spiral arms. In fact on close inspection the nucleus of this…

    Hidden Galaxy IC 342 - Similar in size to large bright spiral galaxies in our neighborhood IC 342 is a mere 10 million light-years distant in the long-necked northern constellation Camelopardalis. A sprawling island universe IC 342 would otherwise be a prominent galaxy in our night sky but it is hidden from clear view and only glimpsed through the veil of stars gas and dust clouds along the plane of our own Milky Way galaxy. Even though IC 342's light is dimmed by intervening cosmic clouds…

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