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ESO captures dazzling images of newly forming stars in the LMC



  ESO looks at bubbles from brand new stars

Photo credits: ESO, A McLeod et al

This dazzling region of newly formed stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was captured by the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument ( MUSE ) on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The relatively small amount of dust in the acute view of LMC and MUSE enabled the detection of complex details of the region in visible light.

This region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) shines in eye-catching colors in this multi-unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) with ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The region, known as LHA 1

20-N 180B – in short N180 B – is a type of nebula, known as H II region (pronounced "H two"), and is a fertile source of new stars.

  Bubbles of Brand New Stars

The image is a color composite created from photographs taken by the Digitized Sky Survey 2 and shows the region around LHA 120-N 180B, which is visible in the center of the image. Credit: ESO / Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin

The LMC is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way that is mainly visible from the southern hemisphere. At just 160 000 light years away from Earth, it is practically on our doorstep. The single spiral arm of the LMC not only seems to be close to its home, it also seems to be seen almost from the front, so we can easily study regions like N180 B ionized hydrogen – the mere nuclei of hydrogen atoms. These regions are Star Kindergartens – and the newly formed massive stars are responsible for the ionization of the surrounding gas, giving a spectacular sight. The characteristic shape of the N180 B consists of a gigantic bubble of ionized hydrogen surrounded by four smaller bubbles.

Deep in this glowing cloud, MUSE has discovered a beam emitted by a young star – a massive young star object with a mass of twelve larger than our Sun. The Jet – Herbig-Haro 1177 or HH 1177 for short – is in this Accompanying picture shown in detail. This is the first time that such a ray is observed in visible light outside the Milky Way, as it is normally obscured by its dusty environment. However, the relatively dust-free environment of the LMC allows observation of HH 1177 at visible wavelengths. At nearly 33 light-years long, this is one of the longest jets ever observed.


This video shows a dazzling region of newly formed stars in the Great Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The HII region LHA 120-N 180B – also known as N180 – was captured by ESO's Very Large Telescope Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument. The relatively low amount of dust in the acute vision of LMC and MUSE enabled the detection of complex details of the region in visible light.

HH 1177 reports on the early life of stars. The beam is strongly collimated. it hardly spreads when it moves. Jets like these are connected to the accretion disks of their star and can shed light on how young stars collect matter. Astronomers have discovered that both high- and low-mass stars launch collimated jets like HH 1177 through similar mechanisms – suggesting that massive stars can form in the same way as their low-mass counterparts. Add to this the Adaptive Optics Facility, whose Wide Field Fashion 2017 saw the first light. Adaptive optics is the process by which ESO telescopes compensate for the blur effects of the atmosphere and turn sparkling stars into sharp, high-resolution images. Since acquiring this data, the addition of the MUSE narrow-field mode has given an almost as sharp vision as that of the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope – making it possible to explore the universe in more detail than ever before.


This zoom video begins with a broad view of the Milky Way and ends with a close-up view of a dazzling region of emerging stars in the HII region. LHA 120-N 180B – also known as N180. This luminous region of newborn stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was captured by ESO's Very Large Telescope Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer instrument. The relatively low amount of dust in the acute vision of LMC and MUSE enabled the detection of complex details of the region in visible light.

Published by Anna F. McLeod et al.: "An Optical Optic in the Parsec Area Jet from a Massive Young Star in the Large Magellanic Cloud," Nature Volume 554, pp. 334-336 (February 15, 2018) [19659013] (function (d, s, id) {
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