The Lagoon and Hourglass nebulae in M8
AAO image reference AAT 31a.     « Previous || Next »

The Lagoon and Hourglass nebulae in M8
Top left is NE. Image width is about 19 arc min
Image and text © 2003, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

At the heart of the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius lies the diminutive Hourglass Nebula. This extremely bright object is associated with the blue star alongside it, named Herschel 36 after its discoverer. Herschel described M8 as 'A noble nebula' and 'a fine and complicated nebula', but he was clearly intrigued by the Hourglass which he compared to the nucleus of the Andromeda nebula, M31 as 'decidedly not stellar'.

Surrounding the Hourglass is an extensive emission nebula, popularly known as the 'Lagoon' nebula in allusion to the sinuous dark lane winding through it. The dusty division seems to separate the Hourglass nebula from a scattered open cluster, NGC 6530, at left of the picture here. It seems likely that the cluster is evidence of an earlier bout of star formation here, which has now spread westwards, into the Hourglass region. The cluster formed about 10 million years ago and is 5000 light years distant

Related Images
AAT 31.    The Hourglass nebula, Messier 8
UKS 5.     The Lagoon Nebula, Messier 8
UKS 26.    M8, M20 and the NGC 6559 region in Sagittarius
Constellation of Sagittarius (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1