The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), located 210,000 light-years away, is one of the most dynamic and intricately detailed star-forming regions in space. At the center of the region is a brilliant star cluster called NGC 346. A dramatic structure of arched, ragged filaments with a distinct ridge surrounds the cluster.

A torrent of radiation from the cluster’s hot stars eats into denser areas creating a fantasy sculpture of dust and gas. The dark, intricately beaded edge of the ridge, seen in silhouette by Hubble, is particularly dramatic. It contains several small dust globules that point back towards the central cluster, like windsocks caught in a gale.

Energetic outflows and radiation from hot young stars are eroding the dense outer portions of the star-forming region, formally known as N66, exposing new stellar nurseries. The diffuse fringes of the nebula prevent the energetic outflows from streaming directly away from the cluster, leaving instead a trail of filaments marking the swirling path of the outflows.

The NGC 346 cluster at the center of this image from the Hubble Space Telescope contains dozens of hot, blue, high-mass stars, more than half of the known high-mass stars in the entire SMC galaxy. A myriad of smaller, compact clusters is also visible throughout the region.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and A. Nota (STScI/ESA)

小麦哲伦星云(SMC)距离我们210,000光年,是太空中最具活力和最复杂的恒星形成区域之一。该区域的中心是一个明亮的星团,称为 NGC 346。拱形、参差不齐的细丝组成的戏剧性结构以及明显的脊绕着星团。



哈勃太空望远镜拍摄的这张图片中心的NGC 346星团包含了几十颗热的、蓝色的、高质量的恒星,占整个SMC星系中已知高质量恒星的一半以上。在整个区域内,还可以看到无数较小的、紧凑的星团。

图片来源:NASA、ESA 和 A. Nota (STScI/ESA)

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