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Cosmic superbubble shaped by stars

N 44 superbubble nebula

The N 44 superbubble nebula is being formed by hot winds from bright, young stars.

THIS STRIKING VIEW shows a ‘superbubble’ nebula surrounding the young star cluster NGC 1929 within the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy.

The superbubble (formally known as LHA 120-N 44) has been produced by the combination of two processes. Firstly, stellar winds—streams of charged particles from the very hot and massive stars in the central cluster—cleared out the central region. Then massive stars exploded as supernovae, producing shockwaves and pushing the gas out further to form the glowing bubble.

The vast shell of material is around 325 by 250 light-years across. For comparison, the nearest star to our Sun is just over four light-years away.

The Large Magellanic Cloud is a small neighbouring galaxy to the Milky Way. It contains many regions where clouds of gas and dust are forming new stars.

Although the superbubble is shaped by destructive forces, new stars are forming around the edges where the gas is being compressed. Like recycling on a cosmic scale, this next generation of stars will breathe fresh life into NGC 1929.

The image was made by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) from observational data collected by the Very Large Telescope and identified by Manu Mejias, from Argentina, who participated in ESO’s Hidden Treasures 2010 astrophotography competition.

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NGC 1929 superbubble 1920×1200 (986.2 KB)

Adapted from information issued by ESO / Manu Mejias.

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