Click on the image for a larger version

 

 

This image was taken in August of 2008 and commemorates Hubble’s 100,000th orbit and 18th year in space (quite the accomplishment, isn’t it!). It shows the star cluster NGC 2074 (upper left) and a nearby nebula. This region is approximately 170,000 light-years from Earth and located near the Tarantula Nebula (which is one of the most active star-forming regions in the Local Group) in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

 

Solar radiation from NGC 2074 is primarily responsible for sculpting the neighboring nebula. The nebula is about 100 light-years long. One of the most interesting shapes seen is the dark structure near the bottom-right side of the image, which resembles a seahorse. Unlike those found on Earth, this seahorse is about 20 light-years long.

 

Some astronomers believe a second star cluster may be tucked away within the bright blue region of the nebula (center-bottom), hidden from view by the surrounding gas.

 

Because I know it will interest some of you, for this observation, Hubble didn’t image the top-right hand region. For the purposes of this particular observation, that portion of sky wasn’t needed – time on Hubble is extremely valuable after all. Or, a more likely explanation is Hubble did image that region and it revealed an alien mothership heading towards Earth at relativity-breaking speeds, so the government censored it… but you didn’t hear that from me 😉


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