A Nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust and gases where stars are born. The Swan Nebula (which is also called the Omega Nebula and catalogued as Messier 17 or M17) is a region of star formation located between 5000 to 6000 light-years from Earth in the rich starfields of the Sagittarius constellation region of the Milky Way. It spans some 15 light-years in diameter. All stars began their lives as a nebula. As a star dies it returns its material to the cosmos as another nebula. It is through this release of matter that the universe is provided with all the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. This includes all the material that forms the Earth and everything on it, including humans. The oxygen we breathe was formed in the hearts of giant stars and the iron in our bloodstream was formed in the final days of a massive star’s existence before it ripped itself to pieces as a supernova. It is from this that we get the saying that we are all made of stardust.
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