Into the Depths of the Trifid Nebula
This image shows the famous Trifid nebula in Sagittarius, also known as Messier 20 or NGC 6514. This particular nebula is a classic favorite among both visual and photographic observers due to its bright and colourful appearence. The complex cloud displays an unusual combination of both red emission and blue reflection areas as well as numerous intricate dark patterns. The nebula is located 9000 light years away in the direction of the Milky Way centre. The entire area is sprinkled with thousands of stars and fainter dusty and nebulous areas throughout. Another dark cloud shows up silhouetted against the starry background to the left of the Trifid.
Near the top of the Trifid itself a curious example of gas evaporation can bee seen. A dense stalk, 8 light years from the central cluster, is emerging from the edge of the bubble surrounding the central cluster, and in the other direction a powerful stellar jet from a young star, HH 399 embedded in the gas, is shooting out in a direction towards the bottom right. The bright young stars in the central cluster emit strong radiation which eats away the surrounding gas and dust. The stalk only appears because a denser region lies at its very tip and protects a thin strip of the cloud from this interstellar erosion. The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged this fascinating area in high resolution. Also, the proper motion of the irradiated plasma in this jet has been measured and an interesting paper has been published detailing these findings.
Also, throughout the nebula lies countless young T Tauri stars just having emerged from their birthplaces inside the gas and dust. These are typically rather faint and reddish, though they are more easily visible in this image of another stellar nursery near Antares
Date: 13th, 14th, 17th, 21st and 29th June 2012
Exposure: LRGB: 335:37.5:30:22.5m, total 7hrs 5mins @ -30C
Telescope: 10" Serrurier Truss Newtonian
Camera: QSI 683wsg with Lodestar guider
Filters: Astrodon LRGB E-Series Gen 2
Taken from my observatory in Auckland, New Zealand