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An all-time favorite of skywatchers on both hemispheres, the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8, or M8) is among the most striking examples of a stellar nursery in our neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy. Visible in small telescopes and binoculars its fuzzy glow reveals the type of chaotic environment where new stars are born.
Argentinean astronomers Julia Arias (Universidad de La Serena) and Rodolfo Barbá (Universidad de La Serena and ICATE-CONICET) have used the Gemini South telescope in Chile, to obtain a dramatic new image of the nursery that could be described as psychedelic. Actually, since M8 is located some 5,000 lightyears away, the multi-hued scene is truly a psychedelic "flashback" as its photons had to travel through space for that same number of years before they reached the gigantic Gemini 8-meter mirror. Astronomers sometimes call the region imaged the “Southern Cliff” because it resembles a sharp drop-off. Beyond the “cliff,” light from a spattering of young background stars in the upper left of the image shines through the cloudscape.