Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

August 28, 1997

Infrared Trifid
Credit: ESA/ISO, ISOCAM Team and J. Cernicharo et al.

Explanation: The Trifid nebula (M20) is a bright star forming region in Sagittarius, 5000 light years from Earth. In visible light, the interstellar gas cloud is crossed by dark, obscuring dust lanes which roughly divide the glowing emission nebula into three major parts. But the Trifid nebula's well known appearance is dramatically reversed in this infrared view. At longer infrared wavelengths the dust lanes are brighter, radiating more energy than the gas. This image was recorded by the liquid helium cooled Infrared Space Observatory (ISO).

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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