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M8 - "Lagoon Nebula" in Sagittarius

M8 - "Lagoon Nebula" in Sagittarius

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APM/TMB 130/780
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Astronomy Magazine Picture of the Day January 11, 2010

M8 (NGC 6523) - The "Lagoon Nebula" lies at a distance of 4,100 light years from earth, and measures 110 by 50 light years. The entire area is a giant star forming area containing a number of dark, collapsing clouds of protostellar material, the most prominent of which are Barnard 88, 89, and 296. The stellar nursery has already formed a large, young (2 million years old) star cluster - open cluster NGC 6530 - that resides within the nebula.

Within the brightest part of the Lagoon Nebula, a proiminent feature can be seen called the "Hourglass Nebula" which occurs in a region where a vivid star formation process appears to take place; the bright emission is caused by heavy excitation of very hot, young stars. The illuminator of the hourglass is the hot star Herschel 36 (mag 9.5, spectral class O7).

June 26, 2009