This beautiful cosmic cloud is a popular stop on telescopic tours of
Eighteenth century cosmic tourist
Messier cataloged the bright
nebula as M8.
Modern day astronomers recognize the Lagoon Nebula as an active
stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years distant, in the direction
of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Hot stars in the embedded open star cluster
power the nebular glow.
Remarkable features can be traced through
this sharp picture, showing off
filaments of glowing gas and dark dust clouds.
Twisting near the center of the Lagoon,
the small, bright hourglass shape is the turbulent
result of extreme stellar winds and intense starlight.
The alluring color view
was captured with a telescope and
digital camera while M8 was high in dark, rural Argentina skies.
At the nebula's estimated distance, the picture
over 60 light-years.