Shining about 6,000 light-years from Earth, the hub of star birth was imaged by the VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in what might be the sharpest photo of the cosmic object ever taken, ESO officials said.
Bright, young stars in the image appear in a blue and white shade in visible light, and in ultraviolet light, the young stars make the gas surrounding them glow brilliantly.
"This radiation strips electrons from hydrogen atoms, which then later recombine and release energy in the form of light," ESO officials said. "Each chemical element emits light at characteristic color when this process occurs, and for hydrogen the predominant color is red."
This ESO photo is part of a detailed cosmic survey of a huge part of the Milky Way.
Lutz Bacher, Appropriated Celestial Photographs, (2012)