This Month’s Background Image

seahorse-of-large-magellinic-cloud

The Seahorse of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio (STScI)

April’s background image may resemble a grazing seahorse, but the dark object in the lower right is, in reality, a beautifully-shaped cloud of smoky dust in the neighborhood that is probably upwards of 20 light years in length.

Our “seahorse” appears in the Large Magellanic Cloud, not far from our own Milky Way, in a region that is forming stars quite near the Tarantula Nebula. When we say stars are forming, we aren’t kidding! This nebula is creating a star cluster known as “NGC 2074,” the center of which can be seen above our seahorse’s neck.

This image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, to celebrate Hubble’s 100,000th trip around the Earth.

But look fast! The baby stars forming in this cluster will create light and winds that are expected to eradicate our dusty seahorse and other similar clouds in just another million years or so.

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