Image of the Day –Brightest Star Clusters in the Universe


The ethereal beauty of galaxy N 180B, an active region of star formation in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, unveils in wispy clouds of hydrogen and oxygen that swirl and mix with dust. This particular region within the Large Magellanic Cloud contains some of the brightest known star clusters. The hottest blue stars can be brighter than a million of our Suns. Their intense energy output generates not only harsh ultraviolet radiation but also incredibly strong stellar "winds" of high-speed, charged particles that blow into space across tens or hundreds of light-years.

If the pressure from the nearby stellar winds is great enough to compress this material and cause it to gravitationally contract, star formation might be triggered in the small dust clouds -evidence that this is still a young star-formation region.

This image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in 1998 using filters that isolate light emitted by hydrogen and oxygen gas. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Acknowledgment: Y.-H. Chu (University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign) and Y. Nazé (Universite de Liège, Belgium).


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