Hubble snaps this gorgeous star-forming region in our neighboring galaxy


This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows one of the most dynamic and intricately detailed star-forming regions in the cosmos. The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way, lies 210,000 light-years away from Earth.

This star-forming region is home to a brilliant star cluster called NGC 346, pictured here at the centre of the Hubble image. The young star cluster is resolved into at least three sub-clusters and collectively contains dozens of hot, blue, high-mass stars, more than half of the known high-mass stars in the entire SMC galaxy.

The unusual shape of this stellar nursery is due to stars and gas spiraling into the center of the cluster in a river-like motion. This spiraling motion, as researchers say, is the most efficient way to feed star formation from the outside toward the center of the cluster.

This image of the star cluster NGC 346 and its surrounding star formation region was captured using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) in July 2004. Two broadband filters that contribute starlight from visible and near-infrared wavelengths (shown in blue and green, respectively) have been combined with light from the nebulosity that has passed via a narrow-band hydrogen-alpha filter (shown in red).





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