Is there any more grand a canvas than space itself? Any more exquisite a pigment than softly glowing gas? Any finer brush than the subtle push and pull of starlight and gravity?
Gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula. This is slightly off center from the brightest part of the nebula. You can see the edge of the brightest part at the top left of the image. The blue light emanating from the top is an artifact caused by a star just slightly off the edge of the detector. If it was a little further away, the flare would go away and only the usual diffraction spike would remain. It's difficult to remove, but also kind of artistic, so it's ok.
You may have seen a version of this image first at ESA's website, here:
I put off doing this image for a long time because they'd already done it. The other night I decided to do it anyway, because I felt so sick, and needed something to look at between laying in bed. Rather than cutting the image in half, I filled the chip gap with cloned data. The chip gap is a 50 pixel wide gap running up and down the image where no real data exists. If you have followed me for long, you may remember it giving me grief many times in the past.
Anyway, this observation was taken in a search for proplyds, which is a shortened way of saying protoplanetary disks, which is a shortened way of saying dark, dusty disks of material in which the earliest stages of planetary formation are likely occurring around a star. After giving the whole image a rather thorough look, I'm not sure they found any proplyds here. Maybe I missed them, though.
The data comprising this image were observed as part of the following proposal:
Red: ACS/WFC F660N
Green: ACS/WFC F558N
Blue: ACS/WFC F550M
North is NOT up. It is 150.00° clockwise from up.