NASA has released a beautiful photo taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of a portion of NGC 6530, a young open cluster embedded within the Lagoon Nebula.
NGC 6530 is located approximately 4,350 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius.
Otherwise known as C 1801-243, this open cluster contains almost 4,000 stars.
NGC 6530 is around 14 light-years across and between 4 and 6 million years old.
It resides within the larger Lagoon Nebula, a gigantic interstellar cloud of gas and dust.
This nebulosity was first discovered by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna prior to 1654.
In 1747, the French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil determined the object was both a nebula and a star cluster.
“NGC 6530 appears as a roiling wall of smoke studded with stars in the new image,” Hubble astronomers said.
“It is the Lagoon Nebula that gives this image its distinctly smoky appearance; clouds of interstellar gas and dust stretch from one side of this image to the other.”
The color image of NGC 6530 was made from separate exposures taken in the visible region of the spectrum with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).
The image also includes data from the OmegaCAM instrument on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope.
“Astronomers scoured the region in the hope of finding new examples of proplyds, a particular class of illuminated protoplanetary discs surrounding newborn stars,” the researchers said.
“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 have made it an indispensable tool for understanding starbirth and the origin of exoplanetary systems,” they added.
“In particular, Hubble was crucial to investigations of the proplyds around newly born stars in the Orion Nebula.”
“The unprecedented observational capabilities of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope 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.”
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