Messier 16 in Serpens, (NGC 6611)
AAO image reference AAT 18.     « Previous || Next »

Messier 16 in Serpens, (M16, NGC 6611/IC 4703, m16.jpg, ngc6611.jpg)
Top left is NE. Image width is about 29 arc min
Image and text © 1986-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

Messier 16 is a cluster of young stars which formed about 2 million years ago from the gas and dust which still surrounds them. Brilliant blue stars of this type are much hotter than the Sun and can be up to thirty times more massive. The dark intrusions visible across the face of the nebula are condensations of dusty material which might one day collapse into yet more stars, should they survive the radiation from the bright stars, which is gradually etching them away. Bright red regions of photo-ionised hydrogen such as M16 are usually found in the spiral arms of galaxies and are often associated recent star formation. This example is about 6000 light years distant, in the constellation of Serpens Cauda.

Related Images
AAT 18a. The dust lanes in Messier 16 (wide field)
AAT 47.   The dust lanes in Messier 16
Constellation of Serpens (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1