Lying more than 4000 light years from our Solar System, the Lagoon Nebula (M8) is a place where new stars are forming. Researchers at the multinational Gemini South telescope are uncovering its secrets.

image of M8

Portrait of M8: This is the region of the nebula nicknamed the the “Southern Cliff” and beyond it we can see the darkness of interstellar space interrupted by stars. (Image credit: Julia I. Arias and Rodolfo H. Barbá Departamento de Física, Universidad de La Serena (Chile), and ICATE-CONICET (Argentina))

This dazzling portrait of a section of the Lagoon Nebula (M8) was captured by astronomers Julia Arias (Universidad de La Serena) and Rodolfo Barbá (Universidad de La Serena and ICATE-CONICET) with the 8 metre Gemini South telescope in Chile.  We are looking at a stellar nursery; gas and dust draped over newborn stars. The image was made from a series of individual images taken through  narrow-band optical filters sensitive to hydrogen (red in the final image), ionised sulphur (green in the image) emissions and  far red light (blue in the image).

Stunning as may be, this image was created to help understand how stars form and evolve. In particular, this research aims to increase our knowledge of Herbig-Haro (HH) objects. Starbirth is not a gentle process; newly formed stars are prone to erupt as they grow, violently hurling jets of hot gaseous material into space at speeds of hundreds of kilometres per second. When these streams of matters (which can outweigh the Earth) slam into the surrounding nebula, the resulting shockwaves are visible from Earth as HH objects . Arias and Barbá have located a dozen  HH objects in the image, ranging in size from about a  trillion km (0.1 light year) across to 4.6 light years(1.4 light years),  just a tad more than the distance from the Sun to its nearest stellar neighbours in the Alpha Centauri system. Our whole Solar System would be lost in the technicolor panorama  above. The Universe is a big place.


Mayuresh · August 23, 2016 at 09:56

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    Mayuresh · August 23, 2016 at 09:58

    Images displayed is too good!
    I want to know about einstein’s black hole theory. Post it’ , HURRY

September 2012 Night Sky Wonders | Astronotes · October 15, 2013 at 03:11

[…] skies in September.First up let’s search for a celestial cloud in the sky, Messier 8 or the Lagoon Nebula. It is visible to the naked eye on a clear dark night, with some effort of course and shines at a […]

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