Astronomy Picture of the Day

Snake in the Dark

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#73924 by @ 22.05.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
Snake in the Dark


Dark nebulae snake
across a gorgeous expanse of stars in
wide-field view

toward the
constellation Ophiucus and the center
of our Milky Way Galaxy.

In fact, the central
seen here is well known as the
Snake Nebula.

It is also listed as Barnard 72 (B72), one of 182
dark markings of the sky
cataloged in the early 20th century
by astronomer E. E. Barnard.

Unlike bright emission nebulae and star clusters,
Barnard's nebulae

are interstellar dark clouds of obscuring
gas and dust.

Their shapes are visible in
cosmic silhouette
only because they lie in the foreground along
line of sight
to rich star fields
and glowing stellar nurseries near the plane of our Galaxy.

Many of Barnard's dark nebulae are themselves likely sites
of future star formation.

Barnard 72
is a few light years across and about 650 light years away.

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