In more recent years, I got interested in astrophotography, both from the ground and from the orbit. And the latest Hubble photo somehow merged the “ink in water” look with space photography. The telescope’s close-up shot of Lagoon Nebula is like a space version of dissolved ink, and it’s as mesmerizing as it can be.
Hubble took this photo with its Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The goal was to find new examples of proplyds, “a particular class of illuminated protoplanetary discs surrounding newborn stars,” as NASA explains.
What we see here is a cluster NGC 6530, a collection of several thousand stars located some 4350 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. It’s a part of the larger Lagoon Nebula, “a gigantic interstellar cloud of gas and dust,” as NASA describes it. The “smoke” or “ink” in this image are actually clouds of interstellar gas and dust, stretching throughout the photo.
“The vast majority of proplyds have been found in only one region, the nearby Orion Nebula,” NASA writes. “This makes understanding their origin and lifetimes in other astronomical environments challenging.” It’s interesting how different people see different things in the same picture. NASA describes it as “a roiling wall of smoke studded with stars,” and I see ink in water. Either way, photos like this are precious to scientists in learning more about stars and their life cycles. The rest of us get to learn something new too, and we also can admire the majestic beauty of space.
[via Digital Trends]