Best of AOP - Diffuse Nebulae

M8: Lagoon Nebula

M8, the Lagoon Nebula, is a tremendous star forming region in our galaxy. Under dark skies it is easily seen with the unaided eye just above the "teapot" (spout) asterism of Sagittarius. A view through a small telescope (with the eye) shows the milky glow of nebulosity pervades the entire field. A star cluster, NGC 6530, highlights how star formation is proceeding in this cloud. A few of NGC 6530's stars can been seen in the bottom right of this image, but most of it is just outside the field to the right.

CCD images like this hint at the turbulent activity of the gases in the cloud. As stars form, they create strong stellar winds (and radiation) that heat and churn their surrounding natal material. Shown here is a particularly dense part of M8 with an "hour-glass" like shape. This hour-glass is the brightest part of the nebula left of the dark rift (Lagoon?) that divides the nebula. The star next to the hourglass is called Herschel 36 and it is most responsible for all of the activity in this area. The hour-glass structure itself spans a little more than a lightyear across in the longest dimension. At this scale, our solar system would be about 1/1000th of a pixel.

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Last Updated: 07-Jun-2014

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About This Image

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20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.1

Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

RRGB color production was used to create this image.

This data was taken under variable (at times poor) seeing.

Luminance = (RED) 60 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: Jack Harvey and Tom Doughtery/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF