The Trifid Nebula is an H II region located in Sagittarius. Its name means 'divided into three lobes'. The object is an unusual combination of an open cluster of stars; an emission nebula, a reflection nebula, and a dark nebula. Distance to Earth: 5,200 light years.
A month in space: galaxies like fireflies, a bridge of hot gas, and a catastrophic decline in cosmic GDP – in pictures
A star cluster once thought to be part of the spectacular Orion Nebula is actually a separate celestial entity. Scientists using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii found that the star cluster NGC 1980 is a distinct, massive bunch of stars in front of the Orion nebula, which at a range of 1,500 light-years is Earth's closest known star factory. The cluster is huddled unevenly around the star iota Ori at the southern tip of the sword in the famed Orion constellation.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, NASA have released this image of chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks. This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery