2000 33¢ Lagoon Nebula
Edwin Powell Hubble
Issue Date: April 10, 2000
City: Greenbelt, MD
Printed By: American Packaging Corp. for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
The Lagoon Nebula is a cloud of dust particles and gases 5,000 light years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. The image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope reveals interstellar twisters, funnels, and twisted rope structures in the heart of the nebula. Herschel 36 is the main source of energy for the brightest ring in the nebula, called the hourglass.
The clouds may get their twisted, tornado look from the difference in temperature between the hot surface and cold interior of the clouds. Future research is needed to determine at what speed the clouds are twisting.
New stars are being born from dusty molecular clouds in the Lagoon Nebula and nebulae in other galaxies. Pressure and heat build up within the mass of dust and gas for millions of years. Eventually the mass becomes hot enough to shine, forming a new star. These regions are an in-space “laboratory” for scientists. They learn more about stars by studying the abundance of information gathered by Hubble.
Star WR124 is pictured on the reverse of this First Day Cover. The dramatic shot shows the star surrounded by hot clusters of gas that are being ejected into space at over 100,000 miles an hour. Arcs of glowing gas are also visible around the star.