IC 4703 is a star-forming nebula. The nebula’s dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust is the breeding ground of a cluster of young stars. The associated M16 star cluster is around 5.5 million years old and was first discovered by Jean-Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745. The H II region with M16, was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.
Interestingly, the Swiss astronomer and mathematician Loys de Chéseaux described only the star cluster in his records in 1745. At the time Charles Messier was around 15 years old.
Twenty years later, the French astronomer Messier described this star cluster as “A cluster of small stars, enmeshed in a faint glow, near the tail of Serpens, at little distance to the parallel of Zeta of this constellation; with an inferior telescope this cluster appears like a nebula.' (diam. 8')"1, thus suggesting a star-forming nebula. He cataloged the star cluster and numbered it 16.
The nebula was first photographed by the great American observational astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard in 1895 and in 1897 by an amateur astronomer, Isaac Roberts.
Later, in 1908, the nebula, along with the associated M16 star cluster, was added to the Index Catalogue II of nebulae, galaxies and star clusters and was named IC 4703.