Frames: H-Alpha: 3×120″, RGB: 12×180″
The Trifid Nebula (Messier 20, NGC 6514) is a target of choice for most astrophotographers because of its extraordinary beauty, prime location (Sagittarius constellation) from both hemispheres and the possibility of being observed with small telescopes.
Its distance is not known precisely because the younger stars that make it interfere in the measurement process, existing calculations ranging from 2,000 to 9,000 light-years away; its diameter is 42 light-years.
The M20 has an estimated age of only 300,000 years, making it one of the newest known emission nebulae.
The Trifid Nebula, whose name means “divided into three lobes,” is an object composed of an open star cluster, an emission nebula (red tones), a reflection nebula (blue tones), and a dark nebula (structures that trisect the Heart of the nebula).
The young stars of the open cluster are surrounded by a red-emitting nebula; the reflection nebula, more pronounced on the left side of the image, is not physically associated, appearing only along the same line of sight.
The energy processes of star formation are responsible for the colors we observe. The red-glowing gas results from the radiation emitted by the more massive stars that ionize the hydrogen of the interstellar medium and the filaments of dark dust were created by the remnants of the supernova explosions.