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Sharpless 2-54 and NGC 6604 - Star formation in the constellation of Serpent (Serpens)

Short objekt description:

Sharpless 2-54 is an extended H-II nebular region in the constellation Serpens (Snake). Inside the gas and dust cloud are many protostars and infrared sources - some of these sources, such as IRAS 18151-1208 - are probably very young and massive stars. The older stellar population in this region has an average age of about 4 to 5 million years and its stars are centred in the open star cluster NGC 6604.
Sharpless 54 is also catalogued as GUM 85 and in Lynd's Bright Catalog as LBN 71/72. The very bright object near the top has no specific and unique catalogue reference that I am aware of. The small bright nebular concentration at the bottom right of the image is catalogued as M(inskowski) 1-88. It is a comet-shaped globule in which a loose cluster of massive young stars is currently forming, observable only in infrared light.

Sh2-54 belongs to an extensive nebular region that ultimately includes the Eagle Nebula (IC 4701, Messier 16) and the Omega Nebula (Messier 17). The many young massive stars of this region form the OB association Serpens OB-1 and Serpens OB-2. The region was discovered by Stewart Sharpless on photographs from the Palomar Sky Atlas.
M 1 -88 in detail - Image scale 1:1 »

The open star cluster NGC 6604 is embedded in Sharpless 2-54. According to Trumpler it is assigned to class I 3 p n, the distance to the solar system is about 5500 light years. The young cluster is a dense part of the so-called Serpens OB-2 stellar association, which contains about 100 stars of spectral classes O and B, among them the blue supergiant HD 167971. NGC 6604 was discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel on 15 July 1784.

A scientific study of Sh 54 and NGC 6604 can be found here. We show a large mosaic of the entire Sh 2-54 region here.

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