The stars in the Trifid Nebula
AAO image reference AAT 30.     « 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 6 arc min
Image and text © 1986-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

Vast clouds of hydrogen mixed with tiny dust grains are distributed throughout the Milky Way. The hydrogen only becomes visible when it is illuminated by ultraviolet light very hot stars, which causes the gas to glow (fluoresce) with its characteristic red colour. In most cases, such as here, the hot stars formed recently from the hydrogen cloud. The stars found at the heart of the Trifid Nebula are here seen associated with dust lanes which are silhouetted against the glowing background. This nebula is in the constellation of Sagittarius at a distance of about 3000 light years.

Related Images
AAT 12.    The Trifid nebula, Messier 20 (wide field)
AAT 12a.  The Trifid nebula, Messier 20 (wide field)
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