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.

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.


This image was captured by the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.