In a Different Light: The Lagoon Nebula

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Each wavelength examines different structures in different ways, providing a more comprehensive view of the stars, gas, and dust in the Lagoon Nebula.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University.

  • Ground-based view: Palomar Observatory, STScI, Digitized Sky Survey
  • WISE Mission image: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA
  • Chandra X-ray Observatory image: NASA, CXC, SAO
  • Spitzer Space Telescope image: NASA, JPL-Caltech
  • Hubble Space Telescope image: NASA, ESA, and STScI
  • Multi-wavelength image (Spitzer/Hubble/Chandra): NASA, ESA, JPL-Caltech, STScI, CXC/SAO

Written by Dr. Frank Summers
Designed by Dani Player
Science review lead: Dr. Brandon Lawton
Education lead: Timothy Rhue II
Music from Associated Production Music

Text, In A Different Light, Electromagnetic Spectrum. The Lagoon Nebula, M 8. Quick Facts. Distance, about 5,200 light-years. Constellation, Sagittarius. Location, Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. A bar across the bottom of the screen reads, Radio, Microwave, Infrared, Visible, Ultraviolet, X-ray, Gamma Ray.
Constellations, Serpens Cauda, Sagittarius, Scorpius. Text, Looking toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy, we see the combined glow of billions of stars crisscrossed by dark dust lanes. These dense dark clouds are the places where stars form.
One of the most prominent star-forming regions is the majestic Lagoon Nebula. This region is about 100 light-years across and contains thousands of young stars. Ground-Based View.
An infrared photo of the nebula. The word infrared is highlighted.
Text, After stars are born within a dark nebula. their radiation heats the gas until it glows.
This infrared view from NASA's WISE Mission shows that the Lagoon Nebula has a well-defined border of warm gas. The cooler dust is shown as red, within the pool of the Lagoon.
An immense number of background stars can be seen in and around the nebula.
A closer look.
An X-ray photo of the nebula. The word X-ray is highlighted.
Text, A clump of massive young stars shines prominently in this X-ray image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Only the largest stars produce enough high-energy X-ray radiation to be observed.
The energetic light from these massive young stars is carving out the nebula.
An infrared photo of the stars within the nebula. The word infrared is highlighted.
Text, This infrared representative-color view by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope highlights bright newborn stars within a pocket of gas and dust at the core of the nebula.
In this image, the red and green colors represent the heated dust that may later form new stars and planets.
A closer look.
A photo of the nebula. The word visible is highlighted.
Text, In this visible light view from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, an opaque cloud of dust shrouds the stellar nursery.
Parts of this dark cloud are streaming downward, blown away by the strong wind from a star beyond the top of this view.
The intense glow from the partially hidden star birth region creates a beautiful contrasting landscape.
A colorful of the nebula. The words, infrared, visible, and X-ray are highlighted.
Text, In this multiwavelength image, the Lagoon Nebula is observed in visible, infrared, and X-ray light.
Each observation examines different structures in different ways, providing astronomers with a more comprehensive view of the stars, gas, and dust within this distant cosmic cloud.