Messier 8. Another view





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The Lagoon Nebula, also cataloged as Messier 8 (M8), is a spectacular emission nebula and stellar nursery situated in the Sagittarius constellation, approximately 4,100 light-years away from Earth. This celestial gem, named for its resemblance to a coastal lagoon, has captivated astronomers for centuries with its intricate beauty and profound significance in the study of star formation. At the heart of the Lagoon Nebula lies a young, massive star cluster known as NGC 6530. This cluster, formed from the same interstellar material as the nebula itself, contains hot, luminous stars that radiate intense ultraviolet light. This radiation ionizes the surrounding hydrogen gas, causing it to emit a characteristic crimson glow, giving M8 its striking appearance. In this image, it is also possible to appreciate the rather strong [OIII] emission (greenish-blue), especially in the central areas of the nebula.

The Lagoon Nebula spans over 100 light-years in diameter, making it one of the largest and brightest nebulae visible from Earth. Its vast expanse is threaded with dark lanes of obscuring dust, which create stark contrasts against the luminous backdrop, adding to its visual allure. Within these dark regions, new stars are actively forming, hidden from optical view but detectable using infrared and radio observations.

The study of Messier 8 has yielded crucial insights into the processes of star formation. Dense pockets of gas and dust within the nebula gravitationally collapse, giving rise to stellar nurseries where young stars are born. The Lagoon Nebula’s combination of emission and reflection nebulae serves as a natural laboratory for astronomers to investigate the early stages of stellar evolution.

This image is a two-pane mosaic and another result of the fruitful ongoing collaboration with Christian Sasse. A detail of the core of the nebula can be found below.



Additional Information


Name(s): M 8; NGC 6523; Lagoon nebula

Type: Emission Nebula

RA:  18h 03m 47s

Dec: -24º 22’ 54”

Constellation: Sagittarius

Size (arcmin): 90×40 arcmin

Magnitude: +6

Distance: 4,300 ly


Date: 2023-05-30 to 2023-07-17

Location: Obstech, Río Hurtado, Chile

Size (arcmin): 35×40 arcmin

Telescope: 24” f/6.5 Reflector

Camera: QHY 461 (11760x8896pix)

Guiding: off-axis guider

Total exposure: 89h 15m (Ha: 23h 20m; [OIII]: 32h 40m; [SII]: 24h; RGB: 9h 15m)

Processing: CCDStack, PixInsight (one process) and Photoshop CC 2023



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