I've been searching for a good picture of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, for a couple years now and today the astronomy picture of the day provided the exact shot i saw in my mind!
thank you john p. gleason for your astrophotography!
this image doesnt seem like the classic galaxy picture you might have in your mind, swirling arms of speckled stars dancing around in a spiral twirl. that's because our earth is floating right next to one of those arms inside the big disk of the milky way. as you see in the picture below, we sit inside the pancake galaxy disk. When we look out in most directions, we see dark space with scattered star and distant galaxies. but when we look out thru the thick disk, we see the detailed arms of stars, gas and dust that you see in the image above.
all the light you see comes from stars like our sun shining brightly. the intensity of their light causes the clouds of gas glow! the dark patches are thick dust storms that block any light from passing through to our eyes and telescopes. The glowing red patches also reveal glowing gas, but this red version is all the same type: hydrogen!