A massive cloud of dust and glowing gases speckled with newborn stars in the shape of a seagull shines in a stunning image captured by a telescope in Chile.
A new photo from the European Southern Observatory telescope shows the "Seagull Nebula."
It's a cosmic nursery full of baby stars, and gets its name because it resembles a gull in flight. Its wingspan measures 100 light years across, according to the European Southern Observatory.
The color and glow come from newborn and still-developing stars energizing gas around them and emitting radiation. This particular collection is known as an emission nebula, which indicates the active formation of new stars.
"It is the radiation emanating from these young stars that gives the clouds their fantastical colours and makes them so eye-catching, by ionising the surrounding gas and causing it to glow. This radiation is also the main factor that determines the clouds' shapes, by exerting pressure on the surrounding material and sculpting it into the whimsical morphologies we see," the observatory said in a press release.
The gas cloud that looks like a gull's head houses the nebula's biggest star. It resembles an eye and is 20 times more massive than the sun.
It's located about 3,700 light years away in one arm of the Milky Way, according to the observatory.
'Seagull Nebula': Telescope captures emission nebula shaped like a seagull, spanning 100 lights years wide