A giant stellar nursery

Isolated stars may lend insight into star formation. 

This image of LHA 120-N 150 was taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

ESA/Hubble, NASA, I. Stephens; CC BY 4.0

This region of space with the bright pink cloud and the young stars surrounding it is known somewhat drily as LHA 120-N 150, which astronomers say is the perfect laboratory to study the origin of massive stars.

LHA 120-N 150 is a substructure of the gigantic Tarantula Nebula, the largest stellar nursery in the local Universe.

Astronomers have studied this region to learn more about the environment in which massive stars form, exploring whether isolated stars truly formed alone, or just moved away from their stellar siblings.

Inside LHA 120-N 150 are several dozens of visible isolated stars. However, finding their origin isn’t easy; young stars, before they are fully formed – especially massive ones – look very similar to dense clumps of dust.

Only detailed analysis and observations will reveal their true nature and help to solve the unanswered puzzle of the origin of massive stars.

The observations are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

  1. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017ApJ...834...94S/abstrac
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