M8: The Lagoon Nebula

Click on image for larger version.

M8, the Lagoon Nebula, is a tremendous starforming region in our galaxy. Under dark skies it is easily seen with the unaided eye just above the "teapot" (spout) asterism of Sagittarius. A view through a small telescope (with the eye) shows the milky glow of nebulosity pervades the entire field. A star cluster, NGC 6530, highlights how starformation is proceeding in this cloud. A few of NGC 6530's stars can been seen in the bottom right of this image; but most of it is just outside the field to the right.

CCD images like this hint at the turbulent activity of the gases in the cloud. As stars form they create strong stellar winds (and radiation) that heat and churn their surrounding natal material. Shown here is a particularly dense part of M8 with an "hour-glass" like shape. This hour-glass is the brightest part of the nebula left of the dark rift (Lagoon?) that divides the nebula. The star next to the hourglass is called Herschel 36 and it is most responsible for all of the activity in this area. The hour-glass structure itself spans a little more than a light across in the longest dimension. At this scale, our solar system would be about 1/1000th of a pixel.


20in RC Optical Systems telescope operating at f/8.4
Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

R R G B color production was used to create this image.

Luminance = (RED) 65 minutes binned 1x1
Red = 10 minutes binned 2x2
Green = 10 minutes binned 2x2
Blue = 10 minutes binned 2x2

  • This data was taken under variable (at times poor) seeing.
  • Minimum credit line: Jack Harvey and Tom Doughtery/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

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    Updated: 05/25/2004