The universe is a painstakingly large place, even mapping a small sliver of sky takes a lot of manpower and telescope time. For the southern sky, no recent survey has been more successful than VISTA, which is operated by the ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile; it specifically focuses on light at infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. These wavelengths pull back the curtain, so to speak, allowing us to view objects that are all but hidden from the human eye.
in a new image, taken by the VVV survey — an acronym for 'VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea' — we see a well-known star forming region, called the Trifid nebula (otherwise known as Messier 20), in a new light. The region in question can be found about 5,200 light-years from Earth in the Sagittarius constellation.
The VVV Survey takes particular interest in variable objects, or those that vary in luminosity over time. Trifid, which lies just 27,000 light-years away from the center of the Milky Way, was zeroed in on by VVV in hopes of identifying Cepheid variable stars. The ESO explains further,