“The Pac-Man” Blob -200,000 Xs Brighter than the Sun


Nebula N214 is a large region of gas and dust located in a remote part of our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud where massive stars are forming. A remarkable feature of N214C is the presence of a globular "Pac Man" blob of hot and ionised gas. It appears as a sphere about four light-years across, split into two lobes by a dust lane which runs along an almost north-south direction.

The H II blob coincides with a strong infrared source, which was detected with the IRAS satellite. The observations indicate the presence of a massive heat source, 200,000 times more luminous than the Sun. This is more probably due to an O7 V star of about 40 solar masses embedded in an infrared cluster. Alternatively, it might well be that the heating arises from a very massive star of about 100 solar masses still in the process of being formed.

"It is possible that the blob resulted from massive star formation following the collapse of a thin shell of neutral matter accumulated through the effect of strong irradiation and heating of the star Sk-71 51", says Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri from the Observatoire de Paris (France) and member of the team."Such a "sequential star formation" has probably occurred also toward the southern ridge of N214C".


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