The Trifid Nebula was the subject of an investigation by astronomers using the
Hubble Space Telescope in 1997, using filters that isolate emission from
sulfur atoms, and doubly ionized
oxygen atom. The images were combined into a false-color composite picture to suggest how the nebula might look to the eye.
The close-up images show a dense cloud of dust and gas, which is a
stellar nursery full of embryonic stars. This cloud is about ly away from the nebula's central star. A
stellar jet protrudes from the head of the cloud and is about long. The jet's source is a young stellar object deep within the cloud. Jets are the exhaust gasses of star formation and radiation from the nebula's central star makes the jet glow. 0.75 ly
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,
Spitzer Space Telescope discovered 30 embryonic stars and 120 newborn stars not seen in
visible light images.
It is approximately away from
5000 lyEarth. Its
apparent magnitude is 6.3.