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This image shows the most detailed view ever of the core of Messier 82 (M 82), also known as the Cigar Galaxy. Rich with dust, young stars and glowing gas, M 82 is both unusually bright and relatively close to Earth. The starburst galaxy is located around 12 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear).
The Cone Nebula, the Christmas Tree Cluster, the Snowflake Cluster and the Fox Fur Nebula are all located in the Monoceros constellation.
The bright, pinkish-white star at upper left of Orion is Betelgeuse. A red supergiant, it is one of the largest and most luminous stars known. If it were at the center of our solar system, its surface would extend to the orbit of Jupiter and beyond, wholly engulfing Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Betelgeuse is approximately 640 light-years away from Earth.
This is the Ghost Nebula, a reflection nebula in the Cepheus constellation. It is located about 1500 light years away from Earth. It looks like a giant bird, ready to take flight! Photo credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF