NGC 6523
The Lagoon Nebula

Over millions of years, the persistant tug of gravity nudges interstellar material into vast clouds that eventually give rise to bright new suns. Our Sun and Earth were formed under similar conditions in a long since vanished stellar factory. This scene stretches over 50 light years and is located about 5,000 light years distant towards the southern constellation of Sagittarius. Considering the Moon is about 2,328 miles (3.747 kilometers) in diameter and 157 trillion times closer to Earth than the Lagoon Nebula, you gain a better appreciation for how much space this enormous nebula occupies by hovering or clicking here and viewing the Moon superimposed for comparison.

A 6 panel, 75 mega-pixel image produced with a RCOS .5 meter telescope, Apogee Alta U16M, and Astrodon E-Series filters

1,080 minutes Luminance, 540 minutes Red, 540 minutes Green and 540 minutes Blue (All 1X1)
Image copyright 2010 R Jay GaBany

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View the animated extra:
Anatomy of a Stellar Factory