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Great Sagittarius Starcloud

 

The Great Sagittarius Starcloud

 

The Great Sagittarius Starcloud is the most prominent star cloud of the Milky Way and marks the center of our galaxy, which is hidden behind it, at a distance of approx. 8 kpc or 26,000 light years. The stars we actually see in the cloud belong to the Sagittarius-Carina Arm, which is the next-inner spiral arm of our galaxy, and are located at distances between 2 and 4 kpc (6,500 - 13,000 light years).

There is a lot of dust present which obscures our view towards the Milky Way's center, some large-scale dust filaments are visible within the star cloud. The eastern edge of the Great Sagittarius Starcloud is defined by a huge dust lane lying towards the western and northern side, which is actually part of the dark lane which seems to bisect the whole Milky Way into two separate parts. It is dotted by patches of red emission nebulosity. The brightest nebula seen near the upper edge of the frame is M8, the Lagoon Nebula.

The yellow-brownish color of the starcloud is caused by interstellar absorption, which becomes stronger towards the great dust lane it right. Foreground stars appear white.

Towards the lower edge of the image, at right, the large star cluster M7 (``Ptolemy's Cluster") can be spotted. It consists of about 80 stars brighter than 10th magnitude. The two bright stars at the left edge and the one near the center form the spout of the ``teapot", which is how the constellation Sagittarius looks like.

NGC 6520 and B86 - Part of the Large Sagittarius Star Cloud, refractor photograph.
LDN 52, NGC 6520, B86 - Part of the Large Sagittarius Star Cloud, refractor photograph.
M7 - Ptolemy's Cluster, refractor photograph.
M8 - Lagoon Nebula, HαRGB image.


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© 2010 Walter Koprolin