Eagle Nebula


Star formations are the processes by which interstellar clouds turn into stars. One of the most majestic ever discovered is the Eagle Nebula . Located 6500 light years from Earth (or what is the same, 1750 parsecs), this mass of cosmic matter belongs to Messier’s catalog , specifically to the object called M16, and belongs to a region II, where the massive star birth.


What is the Eagle Nebula?

The Eagle Nebula is an astronomical body , which was cataloged as M16. This is composed of a nebula and a cluster of open stars.


Origin of the Eagle Nebula

According to the scientific community , it is estimated that this formation began to exist 1 or 2 million years ago.



Its central zone was described for the first time in 1746 by the astrophysicist Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux , as a cluster of stars between the constellations of Antinous, Sagittarius and Serpent. Almost two decades later, the astronomer Charles Messier, according to what was written in his catalog, detailed the nebula completely.

In 1995, it was discovered by the Hubble telescope , and the captured image became popular worldwide.


The most remarkable qualities of this nebula are the following:

  • It is part of the H II region, registered as IC 4703
  • It is 1 to 2 million years old
  • It is located in a zone of stellar creation almost 7000 light years away.
  • Its gaseous peaks are about 90 trillion kilometers long
  • It contains more than 8000 stars, including almost 500 of the spectral type , whose luminosity exceeds 1 million times that of the sun
  • Just as it is the cradle of millions of stars, it also witnesses the death of many, which later become part of new stars.

Where is the Eagle Nebula?

Its exact location is in the constellation ci ng  Serpens, specifically eastward flow in its area, part of the object along with the M16 open cluster called NGC 6611.

Known objects

The object associated with the Eagle Nebula is M16, and it is part of the Messier catalog, a list of astronomical objects observed and described by the French astronomer Charles Messier. It is so named because it is interstellar object number 16 discovered by Messier.

Observation of the Eagle Nebula

From a scientific point of view, it has been observed by several space telescopes, the first being Hubble in 1995. Thanks to the photograph taken by this telescope, it was shown that the pillars of the nebula (known as Pillars of Creation ) are the source of young stars.

Similarly, the European Space Agency has obtained data thanks to two telescopes: Herschel, which has shown in detail the gases and dust that make up this nebula, and XMM-Newton , which made it possible to see hot young stars.

As a hobbyist, anyone interested in observing this nebula should have quality binoculars and be in a suitable climate. Also, you have to make sure that the sky is at its darkest point, away from pollution, and handle the correct coordinates .

Once this is achieved, you have to locate the eagle’s constellation , specifically its tail, and there you will be able to notice the cloudiness. If a large aperture telescope is used, the object can be detailed more extensively.

Pillars of Creation

What is most striking about this phenomenon are the huge hollow columns of dust and gas that are located in its central area that, after being observed in detail by different space telescopes, came to be called the Pillars of Creation .

The name given to these colossal columns of the Eagle Nebula , the Pillars of Creation , is due to the fact that young stars are born in this cloud of gases. In return, a good number of stars also die, although their remains are once again part of new stars.

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