In recent months, NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day has showcased stunning photographs of celestial objects captured by astrophotographers worldwide. Among these objects are some of the 110 Messier Objects catalogued by French astronomer Charles Messier, who meticulously studied and recorded them in the Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d’Étoiles. These objects, now known as the Messier Objects, include breathtaking nebulae like the Crab Nebula, Dumbbell Nebula, and the Pleiades star cluster, among others. Despite being a comet hunter, Messier’s discoveries of these celestial wonders remain some of his most remarkable achievements.
Today’s NASA astronomical image is a screenshot of M20, also known as the Trifid Nebula. This star-forming region is located about 9,000 light-years away from the constellation Sagittarius. According to NASA, the Trifid Nebula is only 300,000 years old and has an apparent magnitude of 6.3 and can be observed with a small telescope in August.
The technique used to take the picture
Astrophotographer Martin Pogue captured this stunning image with the SBIG STL-11000M CCD camera and RCOS carbon tube telescope mounted on the Paramount ME Automated Telescope System. An Astrodon filter was also used.
NASA description of the image
What is happening at the center of the Trifid Nebula? The three visible dust bands give the Trifid its name. Mountains of opaque dust can be seen near the base, while other dark strands of dust are visible interwoven throughout the haze. A single massive star visible near the center causes much of the Trifid glow. The Trifid, cataloged M20, is only about 300,000 years old, making it one of the youngest emission nebulae known. The Star Formation Nebula is located approximately 9,000 light-years away from the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). The area in the picture covers about 20 light years.