Cosmic Rose Blooms In Star Cluster Photo
The photo depicts the star cluster NGC 371, a stellar nursery in our neighboring galaxy the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy about 200 000 light-years from Earth. Such regions of ionized hydrogen--known as HII regions--are sites of recent star birth. NGC 371 is an open cluster surrounded by a nebula. The stars in open clusters all originate from the same diffuse HII region, and over time the majority of the hydrogen is used up by star formation, leaving behind a shell of hydrogen such as the one in this image, along with a cluster of hot young stars.
Image credit: ESO/Manu Mejias