The Seagull nebula draws its common name from its resemblance to a gull in flight. The image spans an area about seven times as wide as the full moon, and three times as high (3.55 by 1.37 degrees), straddling the border between the constellations Monoceros and Canis Major (the Big Dog).
Astronomers catalog the nebula as IC 2177. This cosmic cloud is one of many sites of star formation within the Milky Way galaxy. It is located 3,800 light-years away from Earth, inside the Orion spur -- the same partial spiral arm of the Milky Way where our solar system is located. The nebula is nearly 240 light-years across.
Astronomers list the region near the seagull's eye as NGC 2327, which contains a cluster of stars born about 1.5 million years ago. The eye is the brightest and hottest of the newborn stars in the entire nebula and heats up the dust so that it glows in infrared light.
January 2nd, 2021
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