The article on star formation in the Eagle nebula badly misrepresents the implications of recent observations of this object. For example, the subtitle is “The Eagle’s EGGs: Not so fertile,” yet the stated conclusion of the recent work is that more of the Eagle’s EGGs contain young stellar objects than might have been expected. Rather than an unpleasant surprise, the new observations are actually in substantial agreement with predictions of the paper we published in 1996 and are fully consistent with the suggestion that a majority of the low-mass stars in the region formed in such structures. These and other new observations are certainly helping to clarify our understanding of star formation in this and similar regions. But then I suppose that “clarifying a scenario” would not have been as sexy a theme as “rethinking an icon.”

Jeff Hester
Arizona State University
Tempe, Ariz.

The article states in several places that Dr. Hester finds that the new data on this topic corroborate his original conclusion about the Eagle nebula as an area of prolific star formation. However, other scientists who were interviewed have interpreted the data as indicating that, overall, the EGGs have much less star birth than was thought in 1996 and that massive stars may not be key to limiting the size of newborn stars. –R. Cowen