Reflection nebula around M20, the Trifid Nebula (wide field)
AAO image reference AAT 69a.    « Previous || Next »

The Trifid Nebula, Messier 20 (NGC 6514) in Sagittarius, trifid.jpg, m20.jpg. ngc6514.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 44 arc min
Image and text © 2000-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.


The spectacular Trifid nebula (Messier 20) is one of the best known in the sky, and is in a rich starfield in Sagittarius. It is a striking mixture of brilliant red light emitted from excited hydrogen gas and the soft blue glow of a reflection nebula. The blue arises from starlight, scattered by dust particles between the stars. The size of the particles is minute, similar to those of smoke, which also has a bluish hue. However, the scattered light is not a pure blue, and if we see it through a medium that is yellow (i.e. absorbs blue light) some green colouration remains. This effect can be seen in some of the darker parts of the faint reflection nebula that surrounds the Trifid, where partial absorption of light by foreground dust provides a yellow 'filter', producing shades of green. This image has been photographically enhanced using an unsharp mask.

Related Images
AAT 12.   The Trifid Nebula, Messier 20 (NGC 6514)
AAT 12a. The Trifid nebula, Messier 20 (wide field)
AAT 30.   The stars that excite the Trifid nebula
AAT 69.   Reflection nebula around M20
UKS 7.     Reflection nebula around M20
UKS 26.  The field of M8 and M20 in Sagittarius
Constellation of Sagittarius (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1