Space Image of the Day Gallery (December 2013)

Below the Belt

Kurtis Markham

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013: Astrophotographer Kurtis Markham sent in a photo of the Orion Nebula, taken on Nov. 22, 2013, in Alexandria, Virginia. The nebula lies in the well-known constellation of the same name, the brightest spot in Orion’s sword, below the three stars of easily spotted Orion’s Belt. A massive amount of star formation takes place in the nebula.

— Tom Chao

Red Light, Blue Light

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013: The Horseshoe Nebula (Messier 17) consists of a huge cloud of glowing gas heated by stars created only one million years ago, in the collapse of a giant molecular cloud. The newborn hot stars in its center ionize ambient hydrogen which emits red light. At the same time, the blue light of the stars reflects off dust particles. The cloud also goes by the names of NGC 6618 and the Omega Nebula. It lies in the constellation of Sagittarius. [See another photo of the Horseshoe Nebula.]

— Tom Chao

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