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OUR BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE: Starbirth in the Lagoon Nebula

Published on Wednesday, 08 June 2011 00:00
A portion of the Lagoon nebula imaged using the Gemini South telescope with the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph. (J I Arias and R H Barbá, Departamento de Física, Universidad de La Serena [Chile], and ICATE-CONICET [Argentina])


This false-colour image of the Lagoon Nebula (M8) in Sagittarius in the southern Milky Way shows starbirth in a cloud of gas and dust. Red indicates hydrogen, green shows ionized sulphur and blue picks out infrared radiation.

Argentinean astronomers Julia Arias (Universidad de La Serena) and Rodolfo Barbá (Universidad de La Serena and ICATE-CONICET) used the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph to explore the relationship between newborn stars and Herbig–Haro (HH) objects. Most of the newborn stars are in the tips of thick dusty clouds which look like bright-rimmed pillars. Abundant fast-moving gas from the HH objects ploughs into the surrounding nebula, producing bright shock fronts. They found a dozen of these HH objects in the image, between a few thousand astronomical units across and 1.4 parsecs.

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