M 20, the “Trifid Nebula” – Sgr

 

Messier 20, the "Trifid" nebula

Messier 20, the "Trifid" nebula

Undoubtedly among the most beautiful diffuse nebulae in the sky, Messier 20 is a remarkable deep sky object, with a breathtaking color combination, ranging from blue to deep red and purple: this is because this gem combines both an emission and reflection nebula.

It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764, but likely was spotted by G. Le Gentil in 1747. It is nicknamed the “Trifid” nebula because of its three-lobed appearance.

A young star cluster close to the center of the nebula is responsible of the red emission and it is surrounded by a reflecting area, with the contrasting, elegant blue hue.

Distance to this object is relatively uncertain and a mean of the modern estimates puts Messier 20 at about 5.000 light years.

The image above is a LRGB combination: the luminance is the average of 15, 120-seconds unfiltered exposures, while the RGB component comes from 3×120-seconds exposure in each channel. All the images were remotely taken with the PlaneWave 17″ robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope.

 

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