Trifid Nebula

The Trifid Nebula (catalogued as Messier 20 or M20 and as NGC 6514) is locate. Its name means ‘divided into three lobes’. The object is an unusual combination of an open cluster of stars; an emission nebula (the lower, red portion), a reflection nebula (the upper, blue portion) and a dark nebula (the apparent ‘gaps’ within the emission nebula that cause the trifurcated appearance; these are also designated Barnard 85). Viewed through a small telescope, the Trifid Nebula is a bright and peculiar object, and is thus a perennial favorite of amateur astronomers.

The close-up images show a dense cloud of dust and gas, which is a stellar nursery full of embryonic stars. This cloud is about 8 light-years away from the nebula’s central star. A stellar jet protrudes from the head of the cloud and is about 0.75 ly long. The jet’s source is a young stellar object deep within the cloud. Jets are the exhaust gasses of star formation. Radiation from the nebula’s central star makes the jet glow.