barnard 86

NGC 6520

NGC 6520 is an open star cluster located about 5,500 light years away towards the constellation Sagittarius. It is about 10 light years across. The bright blue stars are only a few million years old, much younger than our Sun.

Blocking the light of NGC 6520 is Barnard 86, an absorption nebula and molecular cloud. It contains is filled with thick dust that obscures the star cluster. Surrounding the cluster and nebula in this image is part of the dense starscape of our own Milky Way.

Image and information from NASA.

NGC 6520

About 190 million years ago, a dust cloud coalesced and began the process of star birth. Today, NGC 6520 is ablaze with hot, massive young stars arranged in a dandelion seed-shaped cluster. Not far away lie the gecko-shaped remains of what may be their birth cloud, Barnard 86. Both are set against a glittering gold-toned backdrop of stars that are far more distant and populate parts of the inner regions and bulge of our Galaxy.

Credit: Gemini Observatory

This image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows the bright star cluster NGC 6520 and its neighbour, the strangely shaped dark cloud Barnard 86. This cosmic pair is set against millions of glowing stars from the brightest part of the Milky Way — a region so dense with stars that barely any dark sky is seen across the picture.

Credit: ESO