VLT Survey Telescope images the Seagull Nebula
The VST's image of this famous nebula reveals the bird-like cosmic cloud in a new light.
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Seagulls are well-known for their huge wingspans, but what about one stretching 100 lightyears across?
That’s the width of the Seagull Nebula (Sharpless 2-296), so-called due to its resemblance to a bird in flight.
It lies between Canis Major and Monoceros 3,700 lightyears away in one of the Milky Way's spiral arms.
The nebula’s seagull-like shape is actually made of three separate clouds of dust and gas that are illuminated by the radiation from young stars born within.
Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.