Today, we’re scooting a bit further along the Milky Way this time to the constellation Serpens, and taking a short stop at Messier 16, more commonly known as the Eagle Nebula, or the Star Queen Nebula.
Now, this is a large star-forming region, and the bright star cluster embedded in the nebula and dark core region is easily visible from dark skies in any telescope with an aperture of 200mm (8”) or above. When photographed, it gives off an intense red glow due to the vast quantities of hydrogen present and being ionised in this stellar nursery.
There’s one rather famous Hubble Space Telescope image that is a portion of this Nebula: the “Pillars of Creation” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Creation). Inside these towers of dust and gas, baby stars are maturing, and the pillars themselves are given shape by the intense radiation of the newly born stars eroding them away.
In a few thousand years or so, we’ll see this particular formation be scattered into the interstellar medium, gone like dust in the wind, blown away by the fury of newborn suns.