Lagoon nebula. Optical image of the Lagoon nebula (M8), a large starbirth region around 30 light years across. North is at top. M8 is a cloud of gas and dust which glows red due to the ionisation of the hydrogen gas it contains by radiation from hot young stars embedded within it. Several small dark areas are seen silhouetted against the bright nebula. These are Bok globules, dense balls of gas which are thought to be condensing into stars. The Lagoon nebula lies around 3500 light years from Earth, in the constellation Sagittarius.
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