ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lagoon nebula (M8), optical image. This emission nebula is a huge starbirth region. The nebula itself glows red as the hydrogen it contains is ionised by radiation from the hot young stars that have recently been formed within it. Starbirth is still going on in the Lagoon nebula. The dark blobs and strands seen silhouetted against it are known as Bok globules. These are dense regions of dust and gas which are in the process of coalescing into stars and maybe planets. The Lagoon nebula is around 5200 light years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius.
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