Cosmic Smokescreen

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 4350 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. The cluster is set within the larger Lagoon Nebula, a gigantic interstellar cloud of gas and dust. It is the nebula that gives this image its distinctly smokey appearance; clouds of interstellar gas and dust stretch from one side of this image to the other.

Astronomers investigated NGC 6530 using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. They 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.

Hubble’s ability to observe at infrared wavelengths — particularly with Wide Field Camera 3— have made it an indispensable tool for understanding starbirth and the origin of exoplanetary systems. In particular, Hubble was crucial to investigations of the proplyds around newly born stars in the Orion Nebula. The new NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope’s unprecedented observational capabilities at infrared wavelengths will complement Hubble observations by allowing astronomers to peer through the dusty envelopes around newly born stars and investigate the faintest, earliest stages of starbirth.

[Image description: Clouds of gas cover the entire view, in a variety of bold colours. In the centre the gas is brighter and very textured, resembling dense smoke. Around the edges it is more sparse and faint. Several small, bright blue stars are scattered over the nebula.]

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Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, ESO, O. De Marco
Acknowledgement: M. H. Özsaraç

About the Image

Id:potw2250a
Type:Observation
Release date:12 December 2022, 06:00
Related science announcements:sci22011
Size:3880 x 3845 px

About the Object

Name:Lagoon Nebula, NGC 6530
Distance:4350 light years
Constellation:Sagittarius
Category:Nebulae
Star Clusters

Image Formats

Large JPEG
4.1 MB
Screensize JPEG
254.9 KB

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1024x768
260.3 KB
1280x1024
393.1 KB
1600x1200
560.4 KB
1920x1200
691.7 KB
2048x1536
927.7 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):18 3 48.09
Position (Dec):-24° 19' 55.82"
Field of view:3.23 x 3.20 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 58.3° right of vertical


Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
550 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
g
480 nmVLT Survey Telescope
OmegaCAM
Optical
N II
658 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
H-alpha
659 nmVLT Survey Telescope
OmegaCAM
Optical
H-alpha + N II
660 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
R
625 nmVLT Survey Telescope
OmegaCAM

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