Spectacular! Astronomers Spot Glowing Colored Gas Cloud Full of Young Stars
European Southern Observatory (ESO) recently captured a stunning image of a colorful gas cloud, 163,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy near the Milky Way.
According to ESO, the glowing gas cloud is called LHA 120-N55 or N55, which is housed inside a supergiant shell, or superbubble called LMC 4.
— ESO (@ESO) May 18, 2016
Superbubbles are "bubble-shaped" cavities that are formed by shockwaves from supernova explosions and ferocious winds from the formation of new stars. Supernova explosions occur at the end of the life cycle of a star.
Having survived the explosion that shaped the LMC 4, N55 remains within the cavity and now exists as a standalone nebula with blue and while stars known as LH 72.
Astronomers said that LH 72 stars were too young to contribute to the formation of the LMC 4 superbubble.
The brilliant stars however, are responsible for the pinkish glow, which according to them is an indication of new stars forming.
"The recent rise of a new population of stars also explains the evocative colours surrounding the stars in this image. The intense light from the powerful, blue-white stars is stripping nearby hydrogen atoms in N55 of their electrons, causing the gas to glow in a characteristic pinkish colour in visible light.," the ESO officials said in a statement.
"Astronomers recognise this telltale signature of glowing hydrogen gas throughout galaxies as a hallmark of fresh star birth," the statement further wrote.
The intergovernmental astronomy organization said that magnificent sight won't be here for a long time. The young LH 72 stars will soon die and go supernova, dispersing N55's contents, which will form another superbubble.
According to Tech Times, the length of a star's life depends on it its mass. Heavy stars live the shortest.
ESO aims to preserve rare cosmic spectacles by having an initiative to take inspiring images of the universe and share them with the public.
The astonishing image was captured by their large telescope, VLT's FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph (FORS2), located in Chile.
Below is a close-up look of the strikingly colorful emission nebula, N55.