Release 155 of 183

Giant "Twisters" and Star Wisps in the Lagoon Nebula

Release date: Jan 22, 1997 12:00 AM (EST)

This Hubble telescope snapshot unveils a pair of one-half, light-year-long interstellar "twisters" – eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures [upper left] – in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (M8) which lies 5,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

The hot, central star, O Herschel 36 [upper left], is the primary source of the illuminating light for the brightest region in the nebula, called the Hourglass. The glare from this hot star is eroding the clouds by heating the hydrogen gas in them [seen as a blue "mist" at the right of the image]. This activity drives away violent stellar winds that are tearing into the cool clouds.