This Hubble Space Telescope image, taken in 2011, shows a beautiful star-forming nebula. Astronomers call it Sharpless 2-106, Sh2-106 or S106 for short. It’s located some 2,000 light-years from Earth. The twin lobes of super-hot gas here stretch outward from a central star. The hot gas creates the “wings” of what might looks to us like a snow angel. A ring of dust and gas orbits the central star acts like a belt, and cinches the expanding nebula into an “hourglass” shape.
The whole nebula measures several light-years in length. It appears in a relatively isolated region of the Milky Way galaxy.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.