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This is an image of the Seagull Nebula — a dense stellar nursery containing thousands of stars born from the same molecular cloud as the nebula. Though, only a small portion of the light from these distant stars can be seen (the result of  rather large amounts of interstellar gas and dust clouds blocking the heart of the nebula from our vantage point). If you look closely, the nebula resembles a seagull in flight. (Hence the name the “Seagull nebula.”)

Located approximately 3,700 light years from Earth, it can be found between the border of the constellations of Canis Major and Monoceros. The seagull nebula is merely one part of a whole. The larger nebula is formally categorized as IC 2177, which dashes across the sky at an astonishing overall distance of 100 light-years!

You can download a larger image here.

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