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How Did the Bald Eagle Nebula Hatch?

15 Jul 2014, 11:30 UTC
How Did the Bald Eagle Nebula Hatch? T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF) / KPNO
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

You’d think that by now — with dozens of telescopes on, above, and below the ground, observing the skies from all latitudes and longitudes, and having centuries of time in which to work — every object in the sky would be cataloged and understood.
But that’s not the case. Not at all. There are still plenty of weird beasties to tease out of the dark, astronomical oddities hiding in plain sight. One of them is G 70.5+1.9, which is way prettier than its catalog-generated name might suggest. Here’s the proof:
That gorgeous photo is by my pal Travis Rector, who noticed it at the edge of another nebula he was observing. Travis notes it looks like a Bald Eagle in flight, the bright head to the left, the bluish strands outlining the beak. I have to agree. You can even see a wing above it, the tail behind, the taloned feet below! The prosaic name notwithstanding, I think The Bald Eagle Nebula is a far better moniker for it.
Right away I figured it for an old supernova remnant. When a star explodes, a lot of gas is expelled into space at a ferocious clip. It slams into the gas ...

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