ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lagoon, Trifid and NGC 6559 nebulae, optical image. The Lagoon nebula (M8) is at upper centre, the Trifid nebula (M20) is at lower left, and NGC 6559 is at upper right. The Lagoon nebula is a vast starbirth region. It glows pink as radiation from the hot stars that formed within it ionises the hydrogen gas in the nebula. Several dark Bok globules are silhouetted against the nebula. These are very dense dust and gas clouds in an advanced stage of star formation. The Trifid nebula has a pink region of ionised hydrogen and a blue region. This is a reflection nebula, which is not ionised but shines by reflecting the light of nearby stars. These nebulae lie around 5200 light years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius.
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