Lynds Bright Nebula 159

Lynds Bright Nebula 159.

Over 150 light-years across, this cosmic maelstrom of gas and dust is not too far away, with massive stars forming within. The bright, compact, butterfly-shaped nebula (see Featured Image Above) above and left of center likely contains massive stars in a very early stage of formation. This spectacular region of star formation is located in the constellation of Dorado, south of the Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070) in our satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a mere 180,000 light-years distant from Earth. These young stars are emitting intense ultraviolet light, which causes nearby hydrogen gas to glow, with the torrential stellar winds carving out ridges, arcs, and filaments from the surrounding material. Their energetic radiation and powerful stellar winds sculpt the gas and dust and power the glow of this ionized hydrogen HII region, surrounded by cooler, neutral hydrogen, entered into the Henize catalogue of emission stars and nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds, as N159.

At the heart of this cosmic cloud lies the Papillon Nebula, a butterfly-shaped region of nebulosity. Resolved for the first time in Hubble images, this small, dense object is classified as a High-Excitation Blob, and is thought to be tightly linked to the early stages of massive star formation. Reasons for the bipolar shape of the Papillon Nebula are currently unknown, but might indicate the presence of unseen high-mass stars and a thick gaseous disk. This colour image (hi-res version) was made from separate exposures taken in the visible and near-infrared regions of the spectrum with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Credits: NASA, Wikipedia.