20 Interesting Eagle Nebula Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
eagle nebula facts

One of the most spectacular emission nebulae in the visible universe is the Eagle Nebula. This stellar nursery. Once the home to the enigmatic Pillars of Creation, the Eagle Nebula can be easily seen using a low-powered telescope. In the article on Eagle Nebula facts, let us learn about its location, it’s age and a lot more that will leave you surprised. Let’s begin…

Eagle Nebula Facts: 1-5

1. Unlike the Ant Nebula, which is a planetary nebula, the Eagle Nebula is an emission nebula. It simple means that this nebula glows because of its own light.

2. This nebula is located in Serpens Cauda constellation in our Milky Way Galaxy. The study of this nebula has helped scientists to understand what really happens inside a nebula.

3. The person who originally discovered the Eagle Nebula was Philippe Loys de Chéseaux. He discovered the nebula way back in 1745-1746.

4. Actually, Philippe Loys de Chéseaux – the Swiss astronomer didn’t really discover the entire nebula. He only discovered the star cluster in the nebula.

5. It was Charles Messier – an astronomer from France – who, in June 1764, discovered that the star cluster that was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux was actually a part of a nebula.

Eagle Nebula Facts: 6-10

6. In his catalog, Messier cataloged his discovery as the 16th object. No wonder, the Eagle Nebula is today also known as Messier 16 or M16.

7. There are some other name of the Eagle Nebula. They are: “The Spire” and the “Star Queen Nebula”.

8. As far as the age of the Eagle Nebula is concerned, scientists believe that it is a little older that 5.5 million years.

9. The Eagle Nebula is so called because it looks pretty much like an eagle.

10. Basically, Eagle Nebula is the name given to emission nebula called IC 4703 and the star cluster associated with it. So, IC 4703 + Star Cluster = Eagle Nebula.

Eagle Nebula Facts: 11-15

11. The distance of IC 4703 from our planet Earth is 7,000 light years. It is the active star forming region of the Eagle Nebula. The Star Cluster associated with the IC 4703 is known by the name NGC 6611.

12. Getting confused? No need to get confused. Remember this: IC 4703 (emission nebula) + NGC 6611 (associated open star cluster) = Eagle Nebula.

13. Just how big is the Eagle Nebula? Not much. Astronomically speaking, it is very small. It spans out over an area of 70 light years by 55 light years.

14. The IC 4703 (which is often used for referring to the Eagle Nebula) is made up of UV rays-emitting ionized gas clouds.

15. The open star cluster or the NGC 6611 is estimated to have 8,100 stars. The brightest star in this cluster is known as HD 168076.

Eagle Nebula Facts: 16-20

16. The HD 168076 is basically a binary star system where the primary star is O3.5V and the companion star is O7.5V.

17. The HD 168076 is extremely bright with +8.24 apparent magnitude. This makes it visible with a pair of good binoculars.

18. The HD 168076 is much bigger than our Sun and has an estimated mass of 80 solar masses. It is also amount 1 million times as luminous as our own Sun.

19. The star cluster NGC 6611 was what Philippe Loys de Chéseaux actually discovered. The age of NGC 6611 is estimated to be 5.5 million years while the nebula itself is estimated to be a little older than that.

20. The apparent magnitude of the entire nebula is +6.4. This is why, a low-powered telescope is just sufficient to spot the Eagle Nebula.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Image Credit: By ESO, CC BY 4.0, PUBLIC DOMAIN

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