20 June 2012
This new space picture shows a river of dust cutting across the centre of a cosmic cloud of gas and dust called “NGC 6357”. (What a catchy name!) Only a small part of NGC 6357 is shown in this picture. That’s what makes this picture special: It is the most detailed photo that has ever been taken of this small part of the cloud!
The “NGC” in the name stands for “New General Catalogue”, which is like an address book for the Universe. It is one of the longest lists of far away objects in the Universe that astronomers have. This is because it includes all types of distant space objects, such as galaxies and nebulae (“nebulae” is the technical name for clouds of gas and dust, like the one shown here). Other Universal address books, meanwhile, only list one specific type of object.
Cool Fact: The New General Catalogue contains 7,840 space objects!