Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain)

Resembling a giant brain, this image of N11 in the Large Magellanic Cloud from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is a space bubble filled with new stars.

Explore the image of N11, also known as the Bean Nebula. The pink hydrogen gas clouds, Bok globules, and pillars of gas and dust are all clues as to the true nature of the nebula. The Large Magellanic Cloud contains some of the largest star-making areas known to astronomers. N11 is one of the most active in the nearby Universe. N11 is the second largest star-making nebula in the LMC and produces some of the most massive stars known. Three generations of star clusters are found within this nebula. Look for the bright blue and yellow stars near the bottom of the image. This large cluster, called NGC 1761, appears to be the oldest while within the bean-shaped nebula itself resides the youngest cluster born out of the nebula. Between these two groups lie a tight cluster of stars. In each wave of star birth, shells of gas and dust are blown away from the new stars forming bubbles. This limits the growth of new stars in those areas but the concentration of gas and dust in other areas will create new areas where stars can form.

In the upper left lies the compact Rose Nebula. This newest area of star formation is lit up by bright stars within the nebula. Strong ultraviolet radiation from these massive, hot stars cause the rose-like petals of gas and dust of the nebula to glow.

You can also find a few background galaxies glowing through the pink nebula cloud. My favorite is the spiral galaxy near the bottom-right border of the nebula.