Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA

 

Pieces of a nebular chessboard dot the scenery surrounding LH 72 in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore this vast shell of gas and dust. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.

LH 72 is a huge shell of gas and dust within the Large Magellanic Cloud. The Large Magellanic Cloud is a dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way Galaxy. The shell of gas spans about 6,000 light-years. The nebula is one of the largest star-making regions known to astronomers. If you peek close enough, you’ll find a few massive, bright and young stars embedded in the dense rose-colored hydrogen gas cloud.

The new stars in the nebula have strong star winds that clear gas and dust from the stars. The radiation from these stars also heats up the gas and causes it to glow. As the gas is pushed away, it cools. Pockets of cooler dust ring the edges of the bubble. You can see them as the chess pieces sticking up along the edges. New stars may form in these compact clouds of dense gas and dust.

LH 72 is found about 170,000 light-years from Earth within the Large Magellanic Cloud. The dwarf galaxy and its companion, the Small Magellanic Cloud, are visible in the southern hemisphere. They were known to ancient Middle Eastern peoples who called them the Sheep. European explorers, including Ferdinand Magellan, described the star clouds during sea voyages in the early 16th century.

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