Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Seagull Nebula

The Seagull Nebula

A broad expanse of glowing gas and dust presents a bird-like visage to astronomers from planet Earth, suggesting its popular moniker: the Seagull Nebula. This portrait of the cosmic bird covers a 2.5-degree wide swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) at an estimated 3,800 light-year distance. 

Of course, the region includes objects with other catalog designations: notably NGC 2327, a compact, dusty emission, and reflection nebula with an embedded massive star that forms the bird's head. Likely part of a larger shell structure swept up by successive supernova explosions, the broad Seagull Nebula is cataloged as Sh2-296 and IC 2177. 

The prominent bluish arc below and right of center is a bow shock from runaway star FN Canis Majoris. Dominated by the reddish glow of atomic hydrogen, this complex of gas and dust clouds with other stars of the Canis Majoris OB1 association spans over 200 light-years.

Image Credit & Copyright: Gianni Lacroce

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Release Date: March 13, 2024

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