The Lagoon Nebula, Messier 8
The Lagoon Nebula, also known as Messier 8 or NGC 6523, is a large emission nebula located about 4,000-6,000 light years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. It is one of only a few such nebulae to be visible to the naked eye.This enormous interstellar cloud is some 110 light years across and is home to numerous dark Bok globules. These are dense collapsing patches of gas and dust where new stars are born. These young stars are not visible until their radiation pressure blows off the surrounding cloud. Bright young O type stars that have already emerged from their cocoons cause the nebula's gas to glow with a distinct magenta colour arising from ionized Hydrogen atoms.
In the middle of the brightest portion of Messier 8 lies the bright Hourglass Nebula which is a distinctly shaped patch of nebulosity framed by tornado-like structures half a light-year in length. The star immediately to the left of the Hourglass is Herschel 36 which is thought to be responsible for most of the illumination in the area. The strong stellar winds are tearing the molecular clouds apart and is it believed that the difference in temperature between the hot surface of the clouds and their cold interior, combined with the pressure from the stellar winds is producing strong horizontal shear which twists the clouds into tornado-like shapes.
Here is a link to my previous high resolution image of the Hourglass, with Hubble comparison
Click here to see the same image in infrared: Lagoon Nebula in Infrared light
Date: 8th and 9th April 2013
Exposure: LRGB: 60:95:56:61m, total 4hrs 32mins @ -29C
Telescope: 10" Serrurier Truss Newtonian f/5
Camera: QSI 683wsg with Lodestar guider
Filters: Astrodon LRGB E-Series Gen 2
Taken from my observatory in Auckland, New Zealand