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Eagle Nebula (M16)
Charlie Lapastora

Eagle Nebula

A nebula is a cloud of dust and gas, filling the space between the stars within galaxies and star clusters. All stars began as a nebula and when a star dies, it fittingly returns to a nebula. The Eagle Nebula, otherwise known as M16, was discovered by two people. At first, its cluster was discovered in 1745-1746 by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux. Charles Messier then rediscovered M16 on June 3, 1764. Messier mentioned that the stars appeared "enmeshed in a faint glow", which suggested what he was looking at a nebula. The Eagle Nebula is 6,500 light years away. It resides in the constellation Serpens, close to the borders of Scutum and Sagittarius, and in the inner spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

The Eagle Nebula is known for its eagle shape, along with its radiance and beauty. The brightest star in the nebula has an apparent magnitude of +8.24, which can easily be seen with good binoculars in the night sky (depending on where one is). With star formation still present in M16, it results in the presence of very hot young stars of spectral type O6. These young, bright stars are located towards the top right of the image above. Stars are continuing to form in "the pillars of creation", which is located below the younger stars, forming shadows that extend down and to the left. The Eagle Nebula has a very distinct color of red to it. This is due to the abundance of Hydrogen, making a Hydrogen cloud. We find a maximum angular size of 2.5 arcminutes, which corresponds to a linear size of 79.3 light years.

References:

Frommert, Hartmut, and Christine Kronberg. "Messier 16." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. N.p., 2007. Web. 12 Apr 2011.<http://seds.org/messier/m/m016.html>.

Hannah, Peter. "Project Nebula-What is a Nebula?." The Young Astronomers: Inspiring Future Astronomers. N.p., 2010. Web. 12 Apr 2011. <http://ya.astroleague.org/?p=877>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 18:18:52
Declination (J2000) -13:49:48
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure time per filter B, V, and R (30s); C (60s x 5)
Date observed March 28, 2011 UT

 

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