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'X' marks star-forming spot in Hubble image

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Hubble image of galaxy NGC 6822  

(CNN) -- A glowing "X" reveals the location of intense star formation in a nearby galaxy, Hubble Space Telescope scientists said Thursday.

The glowing gas cloud where the distinctive celestial feature resides is one of the most active star-forming regions in a galaxy only 1.6 million light years away, situated in the constellation Sagittarius.

The image, released Thursday by the Hubble Heritage team, shows an almost circular bright cloud that spans about 110 light years. Its central cluster holds thousands of newly born stars, the brightest of which are easily visible.

The star formation region is many times more luminous than the Orion Nebula, the brightest stellar nursery in our vicinity of the Milky Way galaxy.

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In contrast, the small cloud just below the central one in the Hubble image is about the same size and brightness as Orion, according to astronomers.

Stars form in clusters from expansive clouds of gas and dust. The extremely hot and young stars produce intense ultraviolet radiation that causes the surrounding residual gas to glow.



RELATED STORIES:
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November 2, 2000
Hubble images show delicate wisps of starstuff
October 11, 2000
Hubble reveals secrets of a celestial 'Blob'
October 9, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Hubble Heritage Project
NASA


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