The Trifid Nebula, Messier 20 (NGC 6514)
AAO image reference AAT 12.     « 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 27 arc min
Image and text © 1990-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

Stars, the Sun included, were born within clouds of dusty gas such as the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius. Measuring some forty light years across, this nebula contains enough material to make many thousands of suns. Within it a number of young hot stars have already formed. The hottest cause the gas in their immediate vicinity, which is mostly hydrogen, to emit its characteristic red light. Around the red emission nebula the gas contains many dust grains which preferentially reflect the blue component of starlight, and to the north (top) of the nebula can be seen a bright star which illuminates part of the dust to create a region of blue reflection. it In some parts of the nebula there are so many dust grains that they hide the glowing gas, producing the three dark lanes which give the object its name, trifid meaning split into three parts.

Related Images
AAT 12a.  The Trifid nebula, Messier 20 (wide field)
AAT 30.    The stars that excite the Trifid nebula>
AAT 69.    Reflection nebula around M20
AAT 69a.  Reflection nebula around M20 (wide field)
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