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For over two decades, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been delivering breathtaking views of the universe. Although the telescope has made more than 1.5 million observations of over 40,000 space objects, it is still uncovering stunning celestial gems. One example is this image of the Lagoon Nebula - a vast stellar nursery located about 4,000 light-years away.
At the center of the image, a massive star called Herschel 36 is blasting powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds, carving out a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust. The hefty star is 32 times more massive and 200,000 times brighter than our Sun.
Dust pushed away from the star reveals glowing oxygen gas (in blue) behind the blown-out cavity. Herschel 36’s brilliant light is illuminating the top of the cavity (in yellow). The reddish hue that dominates the image is glowing nitrogen. The dark purple areas represent a mixture of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.
Herschel 36 is still very active because it is young by a star’s standards, only 1 million years old. Based on its mass, it will live for another 5 million years. In comparison, our smaller Sun is 5 billion years old and will live another 5 billion years.
This colorful image was released in celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope's 28th anniversary. Learn more at HubbleSite's NewsCenter.