A hidden treasure in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Nearly 200,000 light-years from Earth, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space, in a long and slow dance around our galaxy. Vast clouds of gas within it slowly collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a riot of colours, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is ablaze with star-forming regions. From the Tarantula Nebula, the brightest stellar nursery in our cosmic neighbourhood, to LHA 120-N 11, part of which is featured in this Hubble image, the small and irregular galaxy is scattered with glowing nebulae, the most noticeable sign that new stars are being born.
The LMC is in an ideal position for astronomers to study the phenomena surrounding star formation. It lies in a fortuitous location in the sky, far enough from the plane of the Milky Way that it is neither outshone by too many nearby stars, nor obscured by the dust in the Milky Way's centre. It is also close enough to study in detail (less than a tenth of the distance of the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest spiral galaxy), and lies almost face-on to us , giving us a bird's eye view.
LHA 120-N 11 (known as N11 for short) is a particularly bright region of the LMC, consisting of several adjacent pockets of gas and star formation. NGC 1769 (in the centre of this image) and NGC 1763 (to the right, see heic1011) are among the brightest parts.
In the centre of this image, a dark finger of dust blots out much of the light. While nebulae are mostly made of hydrogen, the simplest and most plentiful element in the Universe, dust clouds are home to heavier and more complex elements, which go on to form rocky planets like Earth. Much finer than household dust (it is more like smoke), this interstellar dust consists of material expelled from previous generations of stars as they died.
The data in this image were identified by Josh Lake, an astronomy teacher at Pomfret School in Connecticut, USA, in the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition. The competition invited members of the public to dig out unreleased scientific data from Hubble's vast archive, and to process them into stunning images.
Josh Lake won first prize in the competition with an image contrasting the light from glowing hydrogen and nitrogen in N11. The image above combines the data he identified with additional exposures taken in blue, green and near infrared light.
Source: ESA/Hubble Information Centre
- Hidden treasure in Large Magellanic Cloudfrom Science DailyThu, 17 Jan 2013, 11:30:19 EST
- A hidden treasure in the Large Magellanic Cloudfrom PhysorgThu, 17 Jan 2013, 11:00:26 EST
- Large Magellanic Cloud Region Key To Hubble Contest Win | Videofrom Space.comThu, 17 Jan 2013, 6:30:30 EST
- Smoke-Black Space Cloud Hides Baby Stars in Amazing Photofrom Live ScienceWed, 16 Jan 2013, 22:50:57 EST
- Stunning photo of giant space cloud and baby starsfrom CBSNews - ScienceWed, 16 Jan 2013, 14:30:55 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Hear no evil: Farmed fish found to be hard of hearing
- Exploring phosphorene, a promising new material
- Hunting wolves near Denali, Yellowstone cuts wolf sightings in half
- Not just climate change: Study finds human activity is a major factor driving wildfires
- Trinity scientists reveal origin of Earth's oldest crystals
- Providing children with tablets loaded with literacy apps yields positive results
- Light echoes give clues to planet nursery around star
- Carbon dioxide fertilization greening Earth, study finds
- Model predicts how forests will respond to climate change
- Poor understandability of notifications sent to women regarding breast density
- NASA's Fermi telescope poised to pin down gravitational wave sources
- Study: Cities have individual microbial signatures
- Breast cancer patients receiving Herceptin treatment should be monitored for heart damage at any age
- Zip software can detect the quantum-classical boundary
- NASA sees Fantala's eye wide open north of Madagascar