ngc6611

M16 - the Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula (catalogued as Messier 16 or M16, and as NGC 6611, and also known as the Star Queen Nebula) is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, discovered by Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux in 1745-46. Its name derives from its shape that is thought to resemble an eagle. It contains several active star-forming gas and dust regions, including the famous “Pillars of Creation”.

Credit: The Planetary Society/Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / University of Arizona

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The Eagle Nebula is part of a diffuse emission nebula, or H II region, which is catalogued as IC 4703. This region of active current star formation is about 6,500 light-years distant. The tower of gas that can be seen coming off the nebula is approximately 100 trillion km (60 trillion miles) high.

The brightest star in the nebula has an apparent magnitude of +8.24, easily visible with good binoculars.

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