Who among you likes fireworks? Today, we’re diving into the captivating image of the Trifid Nebula, and it’s like colorful cosmic fireworks. If you ask me – it looks way better than the real thing! It was captured by the talented astrophotographer Martin Pugh, who kindly shared this stunning photo with DIYP.
What is happening at the heart of the Trifid Nebula?
The Trifid Nebula (aka M20) features three striking dust lanes, which lend the nebula its name. They all come together and form a mesmerizing display. In Martin’s gorgeous photo, you’ll notice mountains of opaque dust hanging out near the bottom and more dark filaments of dust weaving their way throughout the nebula. But there’s also the bright, shiny center – and it all comes from a solitary, massive star!
Other than its gorgeous looks and the prominent central star, another interesting thing about the Trifid Nebula is its youth. It’s only about 300,000 years old, which makes it one of the youngest emission nebulas known. Yes, I know, 300,000 years sounds like a lot, but in cosmic terms – this nebula is still in its pre-teens. :)
This star-forming nebula is located around 9,000 light years away from the Earth in the Sagittarius constellation. As for its size, this celestial firework spans roughly 20 light years.
About the photographer
Martin Pugh’s passion for astronomy took off when the mesmerizing Comet Hale Bopp graced the skies in 1997. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that he got his hands on his first telescope and specialist camera. Inspired by the handful of amateur astrophotographers of the time, Martin embarked on a journey of learning and honing his skills in this extraordinary art form. And the rest is history.
In 2004, just before his big move to Australia, Martin upgraded his gear and set up his very own roll-off roof observatory under the dark skies. This is when astrophotography became his true calling. His photos have been selected for NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day an impressive 55 times. In fact, we spotted this one on APOD as well. His photos won him numerous awards and appeared in countless science publications, magazines, and awe-inspiring videos around the world. And guess what – one of his images was even used to create mind-blowing special effects in the famous movie “Interstellar.”
After an incredible 39 years of dedicated service in the Navy, Martin has recently hung up his uniform and embarked on a new chapter. He has retired and now runs his own remote imaging, data subscription, and telescope-hosting business from his home in rural Australia.