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Cosmic 'sea gull' captured in image

Cosmic 'sea gull' captured in image
Credit: European Southern Observatory

GARCHING, Germany, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- European astronomers say their telescope on a Chilean mountaintop has captured an impressive image of a region of star formation dubbed the Seagull Nebula.

The European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory has recorded the head of the nebula, named because it resembles a gull in flight, with its wingspan measuring almost 100 light years from tip to tip.

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The nebula, a cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born, is located about 3,700 light-years away from Earth, the observatory's headquarters in Garching, Germany, said.

The "head" of the seagull captured in the observatory's image glows brightly in the sky due to the strong ultraviolet radiation coming mostly from one brilliant young star -- HD 53367 [2] -- that can be spotted in the center of the image and could be taken to be the seagull's eye, astronomers said.

The famous German-British astronomer William Herschel first observed parts of the Seagull Nebula in 1785, but the portion displayed in the new image wasn't photographed until a century later, researchers said.

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