This image was taken by the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile of a region located approximately 420 light-years’ distance (in the constellation of Corona Australis).
The region, formally known as R Coronae Australis Complex (named after R Coronae Australis, the star located in the center of the image), is one of the closest and most spectacular star formation regions in our galaxy. The blue areas are a result of starlight reflecting from the dust particles that comprise portions of the nebula. The dark areas, however, are a product of a similar mechanism, but instead of the starlight reflecting from the dust particles, it is absorbed, making them impenetrable to visible light.
Over all, the region covers a full 33.7 x 31.9 arc-minutes (approximately the diameter of the full Moon) of our sky, cram-packed with variable stars (stars that have luminosities that vary over time), with some similar in mass to our own sun. Said stars do not emit enough ultraviolet radiation to ionize the hydrogen molecules located within.