The Hubble Space Telescope captures a stunning star formation in a stellar nursery 200,000 light-years away.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning spiral star formation at the center of the stellar nursery 200,000 light-years from Earth.

The Hubble Space Telescope captures a stunning spiral star formation in a stellar nursery 200,000 light-years from Earth, giving us a peek into the early universe.

  • NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a beautiful image of spiraling star formation at the center of a star nursery
  • The young stars are found in NGC 346, which is a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way that lies 200,000 light-years from Earth.
  • ‘The stars are the machines that sculpt the universe. We wouldn’t have life without stars, and yet we don’t fully understand how they form,” said the study leader

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning spiral star formation at the center of the stellar nursery 200,000 light-years from Earth.

The young stars can be seen spiraling towards the center of a huge star cluster known as NGC 346 located in the Small Magellanic Cloud, which is a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way and one of our closest galactic neighbors .

Researchers using the power of Hubble and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope say the outer arm of the spiral could fuel star formation in a river-like movement of gas and stars.

The unique shape of the stellar nursery has long puzzled astronomers. NGC 346 also has a mass of 50,000 suns. To put that into context, the sun is massive enough to hold about 1.3 million Earths inside.

It took the combined power of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to figure out the behavior of this mysterious-looking stellar nesting ground.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning spiral star formation at the center of the stellar nursery 200,000 light-years from Earth.

The study analyzes the changes in the positions of the stars over a period of 11 years. Stars move at an average speed of 2,000 miles per hour, so they move an astonishing 200 million miles during that time period.

Because the cluster is further away, the researchers’ observations were only possible because of Hubble’s greater resolution and sensitivity, as well as its three-decade history of exploring the cosmos.

‘The stars are the machines that sculpt the universe. We wouldn’t have life without stars, and yet we don’t fully understand how they form,” study leader Elena Sabbi of the Baltimore Space Telescope Science Institute said in a statement.

“We have several models that make predictions, and some of these predictions are contradictory. We want to determine what is regulating the star formation process, because these are the laws we need to also understand what we see in the early universe.’

The unique shape of the stellar nursery has long puzzled astronomers.  NGC 346 also has a mass of 50,000 suns.  To put that into context, the sun is massive enough to hold about 1.3 million Earths inside

The unique shape of the stellar nursery has long puzzled astronomers. NGC 346 also has a mass of 50,000 suns. To put that into context, the sun is massive enough to hold about 1.3 million Earths inside

NASA's Hubble Telescope was launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, and deployed into orbit the next day.  NASA hopes to continue providing fruitful data for scientists well into the 2020s

NASA’s Hubble Telescope was launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, and deployed into orbit the next day. NASA hopes to continue providing fruitful data for scientists well into the 2020s

“A spiral is really the good natural way to fuel star formation from the outside to the center of the cluster,” Zeidler explained. “It’s the most efficient way that the stars and the gas that fuels the most star formation can move toward the center.”

A second team used the VLT’s Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on the ground to measure the radial velocity, which lets us know whether an object is moving toward or away from an observer.

Half of the Hubble data for this study, which is published in The Astrophysical Journal on September 8, is archival.

Although the initial observations were made 11 years ago, researchers recently repeated them again.

“The Hubble archive is truly a goldmine,” Sabbi said. “There are so many interesting regions of star formation that Hubble has observed over the years. Given that Hubble works so well, we can repeat these observations. This can really advance our understanding of star formation.

Scientists hope that observations by the James Webb Space Telescope, which is larger and more powerful than Hubble and just released its first images in July, can resolve some of the cluster’s lower-mass stars.

NASA’s Hubble Telescope was launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, and deployed into orbit the next day. NASA hopes to continue providing fruitful data for scientists well into the 2020s.

Hubble orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 340 miles (547 kilometers). It travels at a speed of about 17,000 miles per hour (27,300 kilometers per hour) and takes about 95 minutes to complete one orbit around the Earth.

Hubble orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 340 miles (547 kilometers).  It travels at a speed of about 17,000 miles per hour (27,300 kilometers per hour) and takes about 95 minutes to complete one orbit around the Earth.

Hubble orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 340 miles (547 kilometers). It travels at a speed of about 17,000 miles per hour (27,300 kilometers per hour) and takes about 95 minutes to complete one orbit around the Earth.

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