The dust lanes in Messier 16 (NGC 6611)
AAO image reference AAT 47.    « Previous || Next »

Messier 16 in Serpens, (M16, NGC 6611/IC 4703) m16.jpg, ngc6611.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 11.5 arc min
Image and text © 1986-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

There are few clearer examples anywhere of the intimate relationship between dust, gas and young stars than M16 in Serpens. We see a young cluster of stars (NGC 6611) which formed about 2 million years ago, illuminating a cloud of hydrogen gas. The gas is also dusty, and in places the dust is dense enough to prevent starlight from reaching the gas and making it glow with its distinctive red hue. The luminous hydrogen provides a vivid background against which are seen numerous dark lanes and discrete globules of dust. Many of the dusty clouds are edged with bright rims which indicate the direction of the exciting stars and point to the cluster as the energising source.

Related Images
AAT 18.   The emission nebula Messier 16, NGC 6611
AAT 18a. The dust lanes in Messier 16 (wide field)
Constellation of Serpens (external site)

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1