NGC 1579, a reflection and emission nebula in Perseus

NGC 1579, a reflection and emission nebula in Perseus

Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona (

NGC 1579 (also designated Sh2-222) is a dusty star forming region providing contrasting emission and reflection nebulae in the same field. It is some 3 light-years across, and located about 2,100 light-years away in the northern constellation Perseus. It resembles the better known Trifid Nebula (Messier 20), located in the southern sky. That’s why this nebula is often called “the Northern Trifid” or “Trifid of the North”.

This vast, dark cloud of dust and gas is one of the interstellar nurseries breeding new stars to light our Milky Way galaxy. NGC 1579 is lit it by an embedded, extremely young, massive star named LkHα 101, which is several times more massive the Sun and a strong emitter of the characteristic red hydrogen alpha light. This star lies within a small, young star cluster, together with dozens of sibling stars that are also newly formed.

The central region of NGC 1579 is glowing red of hydrogen gas excited by the hot stars whereas the blue regions are reflected starlight. Prominent dark dust lanes extend throughout the nebula. In fact, obscuring dust, pervasive in NGC 1579, is drastically dimming the visible light from the massive, young, hot stars still embedded in the cosmic cloud.

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