Astronomy Picture of the Day

Seven Dusty Sisters

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Seven Dusty Sisters


Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away,
the lovely Pleiades
or Seven Sisters
star cluster is well-known in astronomical images
for its striking
blue reflection nebulae.

At visible wavelengths, the starlight is scattered and
reflected by the dust, but in
this portrait in
infrared light by
the Spitzer Space Telescope, the dust itself glows.

The false color image spans about 1 degree or
seven light-years at the distance of the Pleiades, with
the densest regions of the dust cloud
shown in yellow and red hues.

Exploring this
young nearby cluster, the Spitzer
data have revealed many cool low mass stars,
brown dwarfs or failed
stars, and possible planetary debris disks.

Want to see the Pleiades tonight?

Look near Venus,
the brilliant evening star in the west just after sunset.

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