Image Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

What do you see when you gaze into the heart of this nebula, a region informally known as the Lobster Nebula. Personally, I don't see even the most remote hint of a lobster silhouette, but it is easy to concede that it's beautiful regardless.

This image, published by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), is a composite, put together using several different images of the region at different wavelengths. The infrared data is courtesy of the ESO's "Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy," Whilst optical data came from the '1.5-metre Danish telescope' at La Silla.

Most notably, when looked at in visible-light images, weird figurines emerge. Said figures are created by vast gas clouds and "tendrils" of dark dust that inhabit the region in a dense concentration, where stars form just out of our line of sight -- obscured from our view at optical wavelengths.

This region is also home to some of the most massive stars found in our galaxy. In the past, Pismis 24-1 (one of the stars the nebula is home to), was believed to be the most massive star in our galaxy, point blank, but later on, it was discovered that Pismis 24-1 is 3 separate stars, which are still quite large on their own merit.

The nebula ,formally known as NGC 6357, is located more than 8,000 light-years from Earth in the Scorpius constellation.

See a larger image here.


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