M17 – The Swan Nebula

I’m pleased to present the M17, the Swan Nebula captured through SkySlab imaging systems.

M17 is an interesting nebula because we are viewing it side-on from our vantage point.  In other words, the nebula looks like a swan from the side, but if we were to take a trip in our imaginary faster than light ship to about 40 light years straight up, we would see something that looks more like a sausage than a swan.

The Omega Nebula is between 5,000 and 6,000 light-years from Earth and it spans 15 light-years in diameter. The cloud of interstellar matter of which this nebula is a part is roughly 40 light-years in diameter and has a mass of 30,000 solar masses. The total mass of the Omega Nebula is an estimated 800 solar masses.

M17 is an emission nebula, which means it’s made up of hydrogen gas that emits mostly reddish light upon stimulation from hot young stars that form inside the nebula but are hidden by obscuring dust.  It is considered one of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions of our galaxy.  Its local geometry is similar to the Orion Nebula except that it is viewed edge-on rather than face-on.

It may be the case that the Eagle nebula and the Swan Nebula are close together, in the same spiral arm (the Sagittarius or Sagittarius-Carina arm) of the Milky Way galaxy, and perhaps part of the same giant complex of cosmic clouds of interstellar matter.

The Sagittarius arm of the Milky way is a hard thing to visualise, so here’s an image that may help.

SkySlab has taken images of M17 through a C9.25″ and GSO RC12-A.  Here is an image of the C9.25 version next to the GSO RC12-A image.  You can see that the 12″ RC has more light gathering capcity and can resolve details that the C9.25 cannot.

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