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This colorful image shows the star-forming region known as N90 in several types of light. N90 is located about 200,000 light-years from Earth in a region known as the "Wing" of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Along with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the SMC is a small satellite galaxy that orbits around our large Milky Way galaxy.
Astronomers have found that N90 is comparable to the famous Orion Nebula. At the heart of the nebula lies the star cluster NGC 602. The high-energy radiation blazing out from the hot young stars in the cluster is eroding away the gas of the nebula. The inner edge of this material is sculpted into peaks and pillars as some dense regions resist the erosion. This is similar to the Trapezium in Orion, but with one important difference.
While the Orion Nebula is one of the nearest star-forming regions, N90 is more than a hundred times farther away. Finding such strong similarities in these two distinctly different environments provides confirmation and confidence that our explanations of how stars form are on the right track.
This image was made from observations taken by NASA's Great Observatories: the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Visible light from Hubble is shown in red, green, and blue. X-rays from Chandra are purple, while Spitzer's infrared light is red.