The Eagle Nebula - M16
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The Eagle Nebula, which is 7000 light years away from us in the constellation Serpens, is otherwise known as M16. The "M" designation is from Charles Messier's 1781 catalog for "fuzzy" objects in the sky and, until 1995 when Hubble resolved these spectacular images, the Eagle Nebula was just that, "fuzzy" as viewed with earth based telescopes. Comprised of sulfur, hydrogen, oxygen and molecular hydrogen gasses plus carbon dust, the light year tall columns of Eagle are dense enough to keep the light of stars within from escaping the cloud. A few young massive stars have caused the tips of the columns to glow as the molecular hydrogen (two protons) degrades to regular hydrogen (one proton) heating up the clouds.
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