Skip to main content

See a close-up of the stunning Lagoon Nebula in new Hubble image

The image of the week shared by researchers working with the Hubble Space Telescope this week is a real stunner, showing the open cluster NGC 6530. This cluster of thousands of stars is shrouded in dust and makes up a small part of the huge and beautiful Lagoon Nebula.

Located 4350 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius, the distinctive smoke-like shapes of the cluster are formed from a cloud of interstellar dust and gas which is feeding the formation of new stars.

A portion of the open cluster NGC 6530 appears as a roiling wall of smoke studded with stars.
A portion of the open cluster NGC 6530 appears as a roiling wall of smoke studded with stars in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 6530 is a collection of several thousand stars lying around 4,350 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. ESA/Hubble & NASA, O. De Marco; Acknowledgment: M.H. Özsaraç

To investigate this scene, Hubble used two of its instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Hubble scientists write that astronomers “scoured the region in the hope of finding new examples of proplyds, a particular class of illuminated protoplanetary discs surrounding newborn stars. The vast majority of proplyds have been found in only one region, the nearby Orion Nebula. This makes understanding their origin and lifetimes in other astronomical environments challenging.”

This image combines data from the Advanced Camera for Surveys with data from a ground-based instrument, the OmegaCAM on the VLT Survey Telescope which is located in Chile.

Hubble previously imaged the Lagoon Nebula in one of its most famous photos, which was shared to celebrate the telescope’s 28th anniversary. This image also showed just a part of the full nebula, which is an enormous 55 light-years wide and 20 light-years tall.

The nebula is also known as Messier 8 but was named the Lagoon Nebula for its wide dust lane which looks like a lagoon in deep field images. Up close, you can see more details in the dust structures which are blown about and sculpted by the stellar winds in and among the dust, created as new stars are formed.

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
James Webb captures a stunning image of two galaxies merging
Shining like a brilliant beacon amidst a sea of galaxies, Arp 220 lights up the night sky in this view from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Actually two spiral galaxies in the process of merging, Arp 220 glows brightest in infrared light, making it an ideal target for Webb. It is an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) with a luminosity of more than a trillion suns. In comparison, our Milky Way galaxy has a much more modest luminosity of about ten billion suns.

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured a gorgeous image of a dramatic cosmic event: two galaxies colliding. The two spiral galaxies are in the process of merging, and are glowing brightly in the infrared wavelength in which James Webb operates, shining with the light of more than a trillion suns.

It is not uncommon for two (or more) galaxies to collide and merge, but the two pictured in this image are giving off particularly bright infrared light. The pair has a combined name, Arp 220, as they appear as a single object when viewed from Earth. Known as an ultraluminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG), Arp 220 glows far more brightly than a typical spiral galaxy like our Milky Way.

Read more
James Webb captures stunning image of supernova remnant Cassiopeia A
Cassiopeia A (Cas A) is a supernova remnant located about 11,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. It spans approximately 10 light-years. This new image uses data from Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) to reveal Cas A in a new light.

A stunning new image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows a famous supernova remnant called Cassiopeia A, or Cas A. When a massive star comes to the end of its life and explodes in a huge outpouring of light and energy called a supernova, it leaves behind a dense core that can become a black hole or a neutron star. But that's not all that remains after a supernova: the explosion can leave its mark on nearby clouds of dust and gas that are formed into intricate structures.

The image of Cas A was taken using Webb's MIRI instrument, which looks in the mid-infrared range. Located 11,000 light-years away, Cassiopeia A is one of the brightest objects in the sky in the radio wavelength, and is also visible in the optical, infrared, and X-ray wavelengths. To see the different features picked up in different wavelengths, you can look at the slider comparison of the Webb infrared image alongside a Hubble visible light image of the same object.

Read more
Hubble spots an ancient pair of supermassive black holes about to merge
This artist's concept shows the brilliant glare of two quasars residing in the cores of two galaxies that are in the chaotic process of merging. The gravitational tug-of-war between the two galaxies ignites a firestorm of star birth.

The hearts of some galaxies glow so brightly that they are given a special name: Quasars. Powered by supermassive black holes at the center of these galaxies, these regions give off tremendous amounts of light as gas falls towards the black hole and heats up, resulting in a glow as powerful as over 100 billion stars. Recently, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope spotted two of these quasars burning brightly in the night sky -- and they're on a collision course.

The pair of quasars, known as SDSS J0749+2255, are from some of the earliest stages of the universe when it was just 3 billion years old. The two galaxies that host the quasars are in the process of merging, and eventually, the two will come together to form one enormous galaxy.

Read more