The Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of a chaotic region of star formation located in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The LMC is a satellite galaxy roughly one tenth the diameter of the Milky Way, with around one hundredth the mass.
The stellar nursery captured by Hubble is known as N159, which sits some 160,000 light-years distant from Earth, spans roughly 150 light-years across and contains countless bright young stars. These youthful giants create powerful stellar winds that work to sculpt the surrounding clouds of dust and gas, carving out vast cavities and manipulating the matter to form filaments.
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The light emitted by the gas clouds is created as ultraviolet light thrown out by the young stars, stripping the surrounding hydrogen gas of its electrons and causing the clouds to emit a faint glow in the process.
Previous observations by Hubble had revealed the presence of a dense butterfly-like collection of gas known as the Papillon Nebula embedded at the heart of N159. The nebula could represent the breeding ground for enormous stellar bodies.
Source: NASAView gallery - 2 images