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NGC 6559, emission and reflection nebula in Sagittarius

Tags: galaxy, nebula, dust, emission, reflection

In the direction of Sagittarius lies the Galactic center and if we could see clearly in that direction the field of view would be filled with myriad stars. But the plane of the Galaxy is very dusty so a direct view is not possible at visible wavelengths. Most of the dust absorbs light, so is dark, but here and there there is some light from embedded stars.

This dusty region is probably associated with the brighter and better-known Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae which are nearby in the sky and part of the same complex of dusty clouds. The soft red glow emitted by fluorescent hydrogen reveals that there are young hot stars associated with the dust. These bright stars also illuminate the tiny solid particles that absorb the light, producing blue reflection nebulae bordering some of the emission regions. The dust is also evident in silhouette as sinuous dark lanes and isolated patches.

Made from "Tek 1" CCD RGB data obtained by Steve Lee and David Malin in September 1997
Top left is NE. Image width is about 7 arc min.

© Australian Astronomical Observatory