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The star cluster M16 and its surrounding nebula, the Eagle or Star Queen Nebula, are situated some 7.000 light years distant in the constellation Serpens, and in the next inner spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. The open cluster has formed from the diffuse Eagle Nebula IC 4703, which is now caused to shine by emission light, excited by the high-energy radiation of the cluster's massive hot, young stars. It is actually still in the process of forming new stars, this formation is taking place near the dark gas pillars which can be seen in this picture as dark inclusions into the very center of the nebula. A deeper insight into the star formation process has been obtained from the famous "Pillars of Creation" HST image of M16, published in 1995.
The HII region near the lower left corner of the image with many stars on top bears the designation Sharpless 48 or Gum 82.
M16 - Eagle Nebula, which this image is part of.
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© 2011 Walter Koprolin