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Contains:  Trifid nebula, M 20, NGC 6514
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Messier 20 or M20 or Trifid Nebula, 


            Stephen Harris
Messier 20 or M20 or Trifid Nebula

Messier 20 or M20 or Trifid Nebula

Technical card

Resolution: 1555x998

Dates:Aug. 15, 2015

Frames: 100x20"

Integration: 0.6 hours

Avg. Moon age: 0.80 days

Avg. Moon phase: 0.72% job: 769084

RA center: 270.648 degrees

DEC center: -23.007 degrees

Orientation: 85.284 degrees

Field radius: 0.497 degrees

Locations: HAS Dark Site , Columbus, Texas, United States


The Trifid Nebula (catalogued as Messier 20 or M20 and as NGC 6514) is an H II region located in Sagittarius. It was discovered by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764. 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 Hubble studies show a dense cloud of dust and gas, which is a stellar nursery full of embryonic stars. This cloud is about 8 ly 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.

The images also showed a finger-like stalk to the right of the jet. It points from the head of the dense cloud directly toward the star that powers the Trifid nebula. This stalk is a prominent example of evaporating gaseous globules, or 'EGGs'. The stalk has survived because its tip is a knot of gas that is dense enough to resist being eaten away by the powerful radiation from the star.

In January 2005, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope discovered 30 embryonic stars and 120 newborn stars not seen in visible light images.

It is approximately 5000 ly away from Earth. Its apparent magnitude is 6.3.



Stephen Harris
License: None (All rights reserved)


  • Messier 20 or M20 or Trifid Nebula, 


            Stephen Harris
  • Final
    Messier 20 or M20 or Trifid Nebula, 


            Stephen Harris

Sky plot

Sky plot


Messier 20 or M20 or Trifid Nebula, 


            Stephen Harris