Standing out: The bright, pinkish-white star at upper left of Orion, known as the hunter, is Betelgeuse. AKA a red supergiant, Betelgeuse is in the last stages of its life; increasing in size and sending its stellar material into space at a tremendous rate. Image credit: ESO
This object is a billowing tower of cold gas and dust rising from a stellar nursery called the Eagle Nebula. 7,000 light-years distant from us, the soaring tower is 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers tall. When Swiss astronomer Philippe Loys de Chéseaux discovered the Eagle Nebula in the mid-eighteenth century, he only described the cluster of stars surrounding it. Charles Messier independently rediscovered it in 1764 as part of his catalog, dubbing it M16.