Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Lagoon Nebula

The Lagoon Nebula is so named because of the dark band that separates it in two. The darkness looks like a lagoon surrounded by an island of light. There is a denser part of the nebula within the Lagoon that’s called the hourglass.

The Nebula is classified as an emission nebula, a type of nebula that is made of ionized gases. In the case of the Lagoon Nebula, the gas is mostly Hydrogen. A familiar example of ionized gas is neon signs, where energy is passed through tubes filled with neon so that they light up. Emission nebulae work in the same way; as energy from new stars or dying stars passes through the gas, the cloud lights up. If the energy that’s ionizing the gas is low, like in the Lagoon Nebula, it will appear red.

The Lagoon Nebula is one of only two “star nurseries” that you can see without magnification. Nebulae like the Lagoon Nebula are the areas where new stars are formed. The Lagoon Nebula has it’s own star cluster, NGC 6530, where the clouds of gas have contracted until they’re so dense they’ve begun nuclear fusion. When that nuclear reaction starts, a star is born. The resulting energy from these stars is what lights up the Lagoon Nebula.

 The Nebula’s actual size spans an area of 55 x 110 light-years, but since it’s approximately 5,200 light-years from Earth, it appears to people about twice the size of a full moon. It has an apparent magnitude of 6.0, the dimmest magnitude that a person with good eyesight can see. Apparent magnitude is the brightness of an object as seen from earth. The lower the magnitude number, the brighter an object is.

Sagittarius constellation


Navas de Estena (Spain)

Newton 200/800 (f4) + Eos 80d

Image by Dark Matter 

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