Chinese Dragon NGC 6559
Credit: Gemini Observatory
Gemini South image of dragon-like dark nebula NGC 6559
NGC 6559 is a relatively small, nearby dust cloud in our Milky Way galaxy that measures about seven light-years across.
NGC 6559 is part of a larger star-forming region in the southern constellation Sagittarius. The dark structure that resembles a Chinese dragon is caused by cool dust that absorbs background radiation from hydrogen gas that glows in red light due to ionization from nearby stars.
The intricate details and wispy structure in the dark cloud is determined by turbulence flow dynamics influenced by variables such as nearby star radiation and motions of other nearby gas and dust. These kinds of clouds illustrate how past generations of stars are dispersing heavier elements into our galaxy, material that will seed future generations of stars and possibly planetary systems.
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