Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2016 October 4
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Nest of the Eagle Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Chris Hendren

Explanation: What surrounds the famous Eagle Nebula? The inside of the Eagle Nebula contains eggs -- evaporating gaseous globules -- that typically reside in tremendous pillars of gas and dust and where stars form. This image, though, dramatically captures the area surrounding the Eagle Nebula, showing not only the entire Eagle shape, but also enormous volumes of glowing gas and dark dust. Catalogued as M16, the Eagle emission nebula lies about 6,500 light years away and is visible with binoculars toward the constellation of the Serpent (Serpens). The image spans about 80 light years around the nebula. The iconic centre of the Eagle Nebula has been the focus of many observational efforts both from the ground and orbiting observatories.

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