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.

2014 August 20
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In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA - Processing & Licence: Judy Schmidt

Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, combines images taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5,000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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