This image presents NGC 6188, an emission nebula displaying a dramatic play of light and shadow, located approximately 4,000 light-years away in the southern constellation Ara. NGC 6188 is a canvas of dark, wing-like shapes, with bright edges extending tens of light-years across, set against the backdrop of a larger, dark molecular cloud.
The area is a hotbed of recent star formation, having birthed the massive stars of the Ara OB1 association merely a few million years ago. These young, colossal stars carve out the nebula’s intriguing shapes with their powerful stellar winds and emit intense ultraviolet radiation, fueling the nebula’s luminescent glow.
Interestingly, the star formation within NGC 6188 was likely spurred by the actions of previous generations of massive stars. Their stellar winds and the violent force of supernova explosions swept up and compacted the molecular gas, triggering the birth of a new stellar generation.
The Dragon’s Egg, at he bottom left of the frame, is a luminous O-type star that sits at NGC 6164’s core. Near the fighting Dragons of Ara, this star birthed its surrounding nebula and blue halo. With a bipolar symmetry, it resembles planetary nebulae. Expected to supernova in a few million years, it’s 4,200 light-years away in the constellation, the Carpenter’s Square (Norma)