Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2002 June 26
Explanation: Clouds of glowing gas mingle with lanes of dark dust in the Trifid Nebula, a star forming region toward the constellation of Sagittarius. In the centre, the three huge dark dust lanes that give the Trifid its name all come together. Mountains of opaque dust appear on the lower left, while filaments of dust are visible threaded throughout the nebula. A single massive star visible near the centre causes much of the Trifid's glow. The Trifid, also known as M20, is only about 300,000 years old, making it among the youngest emission nebula known. The nebula lies about 5000 light years away and part pictured above spans about 20 light years. The above false-colour digitally enhanced image was taken with the Gemini North telescope earlier this month.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.