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Messier 16 NGC 6611
The Eagle Nebula (Ha False Colour)
Imaged by Martin S. Ferlito copyright
Gstar-EX Integrating Video Camera
8" Schmidt-Cassegrain on Vixen GP Mount, Stepper Driven. 
Information provided by seds.org

Cluster M16 (NGC 6611) discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745-6.
Nebula M16 (IC 4703) discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.
The Eagle Nebula Messier 16 (M16) is a conspicuous region of active star formation, situated in Serpens Cauda. The starforming nebula, a giant cloud of interstellar gas and dust, has already created a considerable cluster of young stars. The cluster is also referred to as NGC 6611, the nebula as IC 4703.
The discoverer, Philippe Loys de Chéseaux, describes only the cluster when recording his 1745-1746 discovery. Charles Messier, on his independent rediscovery of June 3, 1764, mentions that these stars appeared "enmeshed in a faint glow", probably suggestions of the nebula. The Herschels apparently didn't perceive the nebula, so that their catalogs and consequently, the NGC, only describe the cluster. The nebula was added in the IC II of 1908 as IC 4703, with "cluster M16 involved", but the NGC 2000.0 erroneously classifies this object as an open cluster.
Lying some 7,000 light years distant in the constellation Serpens, close to the borders to Scutum and Sagittarius, and in the next inner spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy from us (the Sagittarius or Sagittarius-Carina Arm) a great cloud of interstellar gas and dust has entered a vivid process of star formation. Open star cluster M16 has formed from this great gaseous and dusty cloud, the diffuse Eagle Nebula IC 4703, which is now caused to shine by emission light, excited by the high-energy radiation of its massive hot, young stars. It is actually still in the process of forming new stars, this formation taking place near the dark "elephant trunks" which are well visible in this photograph, as well as in AAT pictures and other images of M16. A deeper insight in the star formation process could be obtained from the HST images of M16, published in November 1995; moreover, they were used for an animation simulating the approach to this star forming region, and we provide some screen sized images.



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