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This large cloud composed of ionized hydrogen is the only massive star-forming complex in the entire galaxy. Imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope (@nasahubble), this barred spiral galaxy is famous for containing an especially extensive HII region, a large cloud composed of ionized hydrogen (or HII, pronounced “H=two,” with H being the chemical symbol for hydrogen and the “II” indicating that the atoms have lost an electron to become ionized). This cloud sits at the lower left end of the galaxy’s central “bar” of stars, a structure that cuts through the galactic core and funnels material inwards to maintain the star formation occurring there. CREDIT: NASA/ESA
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A single, tiny one appeared on Jan. 31, but even that is hard to see in this rotating view from our Solar Dynamics Observatory. The video shows a rotating sun in filtered light for the past week, but it is even hard to tell the sun is rotating since there are just about no features. This spotless period is a prelude to the approaching period of solar minimum next year, when the Sun’s activity will be at the low end of its 11-year cycle. Credit: NASA/SDO