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.

July 30, 1997
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Eagle Castle
Credit: P. Challis (CfA), Whipple Obs., 1.2 m Telescope

Explanation: What lights up this castle of star formation? The familiar Eagle Nebula glows much like a neon sign, but in many colors at once. The above photograph is a composite of three of these glowing gas colors. In particular the glowing red Sulfur gas of the nebula nicely outlines some of the denser star forming knots. Energetic light from young massive stars causes the gas to glow and effectively boils away part of the dust and gas from its birth pillar. Many of these stars will explode after several million years, returning most of their elements back to the nebula which formed them. This process is forming an open cluster of stars known as M16.

Tomorrow's picture: Behind CL1358+62: A New Furthest Object

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.