The Large Magellanic Cloud is located 160,000 light years away in the Dorado constellation and is about a tenth of the size of the Milky Way. Despite being a close galactic neighbor, there are regions that have not been well explored. A new image from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows one relatively undocumented region that depicts both birth and death of stars.
The image itself spans several hundred light-years. To the right, we see signs of star formation in an emission nebula. It is officially known as NGC 2035, though is sometimes referred to as the Dragon’s Head Nebula. It is an H II region, in which the radiation is so high, hydrogen becomes ionized and emits bright light. There are many newborn stars giving off light that is being reflected in this area. Temperatures here range from 15,000 - 30,000K. The dark regions are created by clouds of dust that absorb light instead of reflecting it.
To the left, we see the remnant of a supernova. There isn’t much information about SNR 0536-67.6, unfortunately. This supernova could have kicked off as much as ten times the energy during its explosion as our sun will over the course of its lifetime. It is also possible that when it exploded, it could have looked brighter than its nebula neighbor!
Folks living in the southern hemisphere can see Large Magellanic Cloud without the need for a telescope. For those of us in the northern hemisphere or anyone who wants to get a better look at this cradle-to-grave look at the stars can check out the full resolution photo on ESO’s website.