In the roughly 2 years I’ve been doing our daily APotD segment, no other nebula has consistently caught my attention quite like the Lagoon Nebula has.

In July, NASA/ESA released the most jaw-dropping image yet, and, against all odds, I missed it somehow:

A new image shows the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Trauger, Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The Lagoon Nebula—found about 5,000 light years from Earth within the Sagittarius constellation—is easily one of the most enormous and complex star forming nebulae in the Milky Way galaxy. Within it, there are nebulae of virtually all types: features that make the Lagoon Nebula so memorable.

Wide-field images, as stunning as they are, don’t really paint a clear picture of all the nebula-driving phenomena at work within this stellar nursery. Up-close, the most fascinating features we see are the strange, tornado-like columns near the center. We talked about these (and many of the other features) before:

This is hardly the first image to capture the center of the Lagoon Nebula (see above for one of my all-time favorite astronomy images). The key difference is, this one captures light at optical and infrared wavelengths. (See a larger image here)

 


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