Universe

Young stars The stars

Young stars The stars

This colorful nebula, called NGC 604, is one of the largest and best examples of stellar birth in a nearby galaxy. The NGC 604 nebula is similar to other star-forming regions in the Milky Way that are familiar to us, such as the Orion Nebula, but in this case we are facing a huge expanse that contains more than 200 bright blue stars immersed in a glowing gaseous cloud that occupies 1,300 light-years of space, about a hundred times the size of the Orion Nebula, which houses exactly four central bright stars. The luminous stars of NGC 604 are extremely young, as they have formed three million years ago.

Most of the hot and massive stars make up a large cluster inside a cavity near the center of the nebula. The winds of the blue stars, as well as the supernova explosions, are the agents of such erosion. The heaviest stars in NGC 604 exceed 120 times the mass of our Sun, and its surface temperature reaches about 40,000º K. A torrent of ultraviolet radiation flows from these places, which makes the surrounding nebular gas shine.

The NGC 604 nebula is on a spiral arm of the nearby M33 galaxy, 2.7 million light years to the constellation of the Triangle. M33 is part of the Local Group of galaxies, which also includes the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy; Like this one, it can be observed through binoculars. It was first recorded in 1784 by English astronomer William Herschel. In our Local Group, only the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud exceeds NGC 604 in the number of recent stars, despite its slightly smaller size.

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