The European Southern Observatory (ESO) captured with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile images of a glowing gas cloud full of stars. The nebula was called LHA 120-N55 and is about 163,000 light years away from the Earth’s surface, in a location known as the Large Magellanic Cloud. Notably, the Large Magellanic Cloud is a galaxy near the Milky Way.
The small pocket of floating gas and space dust may be forming stars, since the ones present in the glowing gas are too young. Certainly the gas is doing something in a very bright and colourful way and the VLT captures it all.
A pink super bubble filled with gas
The nebula is in the middle of a superbubble called LMC 4. Super bubbles are cavities allegedly produced when a supernova explodes, creating pockets or ‘bubbles’ of gas in space. Even though it sounds somewhat casual, Super bubbles is a serious term when talking about the cosmos. According to the NASA, a supernova is a large explosion produced at the end of the life cycle of a star.
The image is stunning because of the bright colors and the astounding sense of emptiness the image awakens. This gas is coloured mostly because of the chemical components in it. For example, the glowing pink is the result of a process where hot stars strip electrons from the hydrogen atoms.
This process is the one that actually involves the birth of new stars in most galaxies. And that’s why scientist believe that the nebula may be forming these young stars. If that’s the case, this event could actually mean a dot to a circle. A supernova that produced the gas cloud as a consequence of the end of a star’s life. And now, that same gas cloud is forming new stars.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) May 18, 2016
It’s not going to be there forever
The prediction is that the Prawn Nebula will convert into a supernova, blowing the gas away from its current position. However, this will happen most likely in millions of years. This material is somehow a space-survivor, and it is now a standalone nebula.
The stars inside the nebula, now young, will eventually grow mature and die. Like most stars, their lives end by expelling their mass into space and releasing gas and dust. Components that will probably create some kind of new nebula.