We have a ‘two for one special’ in today’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day” segment. This region, known as NGC 3582, is filled with ionized hydrogen molecules; dense knots of interstellar dust clouds; and complex loops of stellar outflow. All of this comes together to form a complex star scene.
NGC 3582 itself is located in a larger, more complex star-forming region called RCW 57, which can be found in the constellation of Carina (near the central plane of the Milky Way galaxy, or about 6,000 light-years from Earth). Within the nebula lies a large collection of massive stars that are nearing the end of their celestial life-spans, destined to expel the remaining outer layers of gases off into space during a supernova explosion.
See a larger image here.