Saturday, May 14, 2022

Star cluster NGC 346

The NGC 346 region contains massive, short-lived, highly energetic stars (Image: Reproduction/NASA, ESA - acknowledgment: Antonella Nota (ESA/STScI) et al.,)

Amidst the clusters and nebulae of the Small Magellanic Cloud, an irregular dwarf galaxy very close to the Milky Way, is the open star cluster you saw in the image above. These clusters contain stars formed from a single molecular cloud, so they have similar ages — in this case, the cluster in question is NGC 346, composed of massive, highly energetic, short-lived stars.

The winds and radiation emitted by these stars help to open paths through the cloud of gas and dust of the star formation region present there, initiating the emergence of new stars and "sculpting" the innermost part of the region, cataloged as " N66”. This stellar nursery appears to have large clusters of very young stars, barely 5 million years old and not yet performing nuclear fusion with hydrogen.

The image of the cluster NGC 346, together with the star-forming regions in its surroundings, was obtained using data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2004. In green and blue, wavelengths of visible and near-infrared light appear, combined with light. of the nebula that passed through a hydrogen-alpha filter, in red.

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