Starbreeding Seagull Nebula Shows Youthful Strength of Our Galaxy
A new image of the Seagull Nebula from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) shows a small section of this complex cloud of dust and glowing gas. The name comes from the wispy red clouds that form part of the "wings" of the celestial bird and this picture reveals an intriguing mix of dark and glowing red clouds, weaving between bright young stars.
Running along the border between the constellations of Canis Major (The Great Dog) and Monoceros (The Unicorn) in the southern sky, the Seagull Nebula is a large cloud mostly made of hydrogen gas. It's an example of what astronomers refer to as an HII region. Hot new stars form within these clouds and their intense ultraviolet radiation causes the surrounding gas to glow brightly, in this case a mostly reddish hue, which stems from the ionized hydrogen gas.
Spiral galaxies can generally contain thousands of such HII regions, almost all of which are then concentrated along their spiral arms - and their presence indicates that active star formation is still in progress in a galaxy. The Seagull Nebula is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way.
Wide-field images of this region of the sky show a multitude of interesting astronomical objects. The young bright stars within the nebula are part of the nearby star-forming region of CMa R1 in the constellation of Canis Major, which is filled with bright stars and clusters.