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NGC 6520 open cluster and the dust cloud Barnard 86

Date created: 1980-11-05

Tags: galaxy, dust, AAT, cluster


The majority of old stars in our Galaxy, as in most others, appear yellowish on photographs. This is because the hotter, bright blue stars have relatively short but spectacular lives. We can see these old stars with the unaided eye as the brightest patches of the Milky Way and a powerful telescope like the AAT reveals them to be as numerous and crowded as grains of sand, especially in Sagittarius.

Superimposed on this distant background in the photograph is a small cluster of young blue stars, NGC 6520. In the same region as the cluster is a dark cloud, Barnard 86. The cluster is at a distance of about 7000 light years and is probably associated with the dark cloud. The dust is visible only because it blocks out light from the myriads of stars beyond, while the bright star alongside it is unrelated and in the foreground. 

Photograph made from plates taken in July 1980.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 17 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory