(via APOD: 2012 May 16 - Star Formation in the Tarantula Nebula)
Holy! A wonderful mosaic composition of Hubble data is assembled here. Even at a small size, it is impressive, but blow it up…and prepare to have trouble containing the awesome.
This is the Tarantula Nebula, out in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way. It’s actually the most active star-forming region in the entire Local Group of galaxies (our home cluster). If it was as close as the Orion Nebula, it would cover half the sky!
There’s a whole ton of stuff going on here. The pinks and reds are gas from emission nebulae (excited hydrogen de-ionizing and releasing electromagnetic radiation), but there are remnants of supernovae in here (as you might expect, when you birth a lot of stars, some of them die off rather quickly) and dark nebulae (dust that’s in-between you and a light source, creating a dark patch, but which is, in combination with the gas, quite useful for starting more stellar formation).
Happy 22nd anniversary of Hubble’s launch, indeed!
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, ESO, D. Lennon (ESA/STScI) et al., and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)