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Star Clouds North of the LMC

Date created: 1984-03-12

Tags: galaxy, cluster

This picture shows a scattered collection of nebulosities and star clusters stretching across the northern outskirts of our nearest extragalactic neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud. Within each red cloud of fluorescent hydrogen is a cluster of hot stars and in some cases these stars have begun to blow the surrounding gas away, occasionally producing vast bubbles and shells of nebulosity. When this process is almost complete, as it is in the upper part of the picture, large numbers of distinctly blue, very bright stars remain, some in the form of the very compact clusters which are typical of star formation in the LMC but unusual in the Milky Way.

The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way, about 170,000 light years distant in the southern constellation of Dorado. Almost all the miriads of stars and star clusters seen here are part of the LMC. An exception is theta Dor, the bright yellow K2 star at the right of the image. It is about 500 light years distant.

Photograph made from plates taken in 1975, January 1975 (B, R) and November (R). Image width is about 24 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory