messier 17
messier 17 Back to Index Page Previous Image Next Image
Messier 17, or the Swan Nebula, is a brilliant HII region and the optical counterpart to one of the more massive star-forming regions in the Milky Way galaxy. There is a large open star cluster known as NGC 6618 involved with the nebula and containing more than 600 stars. A small portion of the large molecular cloud from which the nebula and cluster were born is visible as a knot of dark nebulosity located just left of center in this image. Deeply embedded within this dense cloud of dust near the edge of the Swan figure is an extremely young cluster of newborn stars that are very bright in the infrared and radio parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. In this image, however, only the light from a few of the brighter members is allowed to penetrate the cloud and shine through. Lying underneath the turbulent field of ruddy hydrogen-alpha emission is a delicate wreath of blue reflection nebulosity, which gives the righthand side of M 17 a peculiar "pinkish" glow. Meanwhile, the core of the nebula is criss-crossed by multiple strands of bright and dark nebulosity which are sculpted signs of the intense ultraviolet radiation often found associated with areas of recent star-formation. On the far left side of the image is the ruddy glow of the extensive emission nebula known as Cederblad 160. Image taken with homemade 8-inch f/5.4 astrograph and SBIG STL-11000M. LRGB image composed of 40 minutes each R,G,B and synthetic L channel. Click on the above image for the high resolution version.