Trifid Nebula

Trifid Nebula
Emission nebula
H II region
reflection nebula and dark nebula
Trifid Nebula by the Hubble Space Telescope
Credit: NASA/ESA
Observation data: J2000 epoch
Right ascension18h 02m 23s[1]
Declination−23° 01′ 48″[1]
Distance5200[2] ly   (1,600 pc)
Apparent magnitude (V)+6.3[1]
Apparent dimensions (V)28 arcmins
Physical characteristics
Radius21 ly
DesignationsM20, NGC 6514,[1] Sharpless 30, RCW 147, Gum 76
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Trifid Nebula (catalogued as Messier 20 or M20 and as NGC 6514) is an H II region located in Sagittarius. It was discovered by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764.[3] Its name means 'divided into three lobes'. The object is an unusual combination of an open cluster of stars; an emission nebula (the lower, red portion), a reflection nebula (the upper, blue portion) and a dark nebula (the apparent 'gaps' within the emission nebula that cause the trifurcated appearance; these are also designated Barnard 85). Viewed through a small telescope, the Trifid Nebula is a bright and peculiar object, and is thus a perennial favorite of amateur astronomers.[4]

The Trifid Nebula is a star-forming region in the Scutum spiral arm of the Milky Way.[5] The most massive star that has formed in this region is HD 164492A, an O7.5III star with a mass more than 20 times the mass of the Sun.[6] This star is surrounded by a cluster of approximately 3100 young stars.[7]


The Trifid Nebula was the subject of an investigation by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope in 1997, using filters that isolate emission from hydrogen atoms, ionized 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 0.75 ly 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.

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, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope discovered 30 embryonic stars and 120 newborn stars not seen in visible light images.

It is approximately 5000 ly away from Earth. Its apparent magnitude is 6.3.

Other Languages
العربية: مسييه 20
azərbaycanca: NGC 6514
Bân-lâm-gú: Messier 20
беларуская: M20 (аб’ект Месье)
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Патройная туманнасьць
български: M20
brezhoneg: NGC 6514
čeština: Mlhovina Trifid
corsu: M20
Deutsch: Trifidnebel
Esperanto: M20
한국어: 삼렬 성운
hrvatski: Messier 20
Bahasa Indonesia: Nebula Trifid
Lëtzebuergesch: Messier 20
lietuvių: Trilypis ūkas
magyar: Trifid-köd
македонски: Триделна Маглина
مازِرونی: سه‌تکه سحابی
Nederlands: Trifidnevel
日本語: 三裂星雲
português: Nebulosa Trífida
Simple English: Trifid Nebula
slovenčina: Trifid (hmlovina)
српски / srpski: Месје 20
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Messier 20
Tiếng Việt: Tinh vân Chẻ Ba
中文: 三葉星雲