The image above is of the southern portion of the North American Nebula. (NGC7000) and is commonly known as the Gulf of Mexico. The North American Nebula derives its name from its shape that resembles the continent of North America. This large nebula is located in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan approximately 1,600 light-years from the Earth. In the lower left of the image is a bright line of dust, gas, and mountainous columns known as the Cygnus Wall. This feature defines the Mexican and Central America regions of the image. The Cygnus Wall is an area of active star formation. Many new stars are embedded in the dark clouds of the nebula and are not visible in optical light images. They are revealed in infrared images and have been the subject of scientific research. A major source of ionizing radiation illuminating NGC7000, as determined by recent infrared studies, is thought to be a massive O-type star located behind dense dust clouds and not visible in optical telescopes.
The image above is known as a mapped, or false, color image and was acquired using narrowband filters. It was assembled using the standard Hubble palette with SII mapped to Red, Ha mapped to Green and OIII mapped to Blue. The stars were overlaid with color data from a separate, near true color, RGB image. It may be viewed here.