MPIA-HD, BIRKLE, SLAWIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MPIA-HD, BIRKLE, SLAWIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lagoon and Trifid nebulae. Optical image of the Lagoon nebula (M8, centre right) and the Trifid nebula (M20, upper right). These are both emission nebulae, large clouds of gas and dust which glow red as the hydrogen gas they contain is ionised by the radiation from hot young stars within them. Above the red part of M20 is a smaller blue area. This is a reflection nebula. It is part of the same cloud of gas and dust, but shines by reflected starlight rather than by emission from ionised hydrogen. Both of these nebulae lie in the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius.
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