Sh2-54 is the 54 entry in the Sharpless Catalog of HII regions. This object is a very large bright nebula located in the constellation Serpens approximately 5,500 light-years distant. This area is an active stellar nursery with many protostars and infrared sources where newly forming stars are still masked by their cocoons of surrounding dust and gas. Some of these newly forming stars are suspected to be very high-mass stellar candidates. The stars in Sh2-54 are relatively young. The older stars average an age of approximately 4 to 5 million years.
Although Sh2-54 is an impressive celestial object, it doesn't seem to be imaged all that frequently. It is located very close to the more famous Eagle Nebula (M16). Perhaps this is why this spectacular celestial object is often overlooked.
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 data from a Bi-Color (Ha - OIII) image to give them a more natural appearance. A near true color (Ha,Syn-Grn,OIII) image of Sh2-54 may be viewed here.