Astronomy Picture of the Day

Star Factory Messier 17

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Star Factory Messier 17


Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation,
the star factory known as
Messier 17
lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation

At that distance, this 30 arcminute field of view spans
almost 50 light-years.

Stellar winds and energetic light
from hot, massive stars formed from M17's stock of cosmic gas
and dust have slowly carved away at the remaining interstellar material
producing the cavernous appearance and
undulating shapes.

Colors in the gorgeous image were
picked to emphasize
light emitted by specific elements in the nebula
excited by the energetic starlight.

Red indicates emission from sulfur,
green from hydrogen, and
blue from oxygen.

M17 is also
known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula.

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