Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ.Potsdam/L.Oskinova et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In a stunning glance at a region found about 200,000 light-years away from Earth (in the little-known constellation of Tucana), Hubble happens across an active star forming region within the Small Magellanic Cloud: a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The most important star cluster, formally known as NGC 602a, is around 5 million years old, which means the infant stars are still so young, they've yet to fully emerge from their stellar cocoons; they presently remain encased within the remainder of gas and dust leftover from their formation. They have, however, started to eat their way out of the womb.

Evidence can be seen in the intricate ridges that surround the brown areas, which are inhabited by large concentrations of interstellar dust. They are sculpted by erosion, whereby harsh ultraviolet radiation from the young, energetic stars degrades gas and dust content, until the remainder of material is either blown away, or used to forge even more new stars.

This particular image is a composite, stitched together using several images taken at different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, including optical data, x-ray and infrared light.


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