Check out this luminous nursery of young and newborn stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) as captured by the Gemini South Observatory in central Chile. Known as N159W, this gorgeous group of infantile stars is located 158,000 light-years from Earth in a region of the LMC notorious for expanding cosmic material.
Occurring at the border of a ballooning bubble of ionized hydrogen gas, these Young Star Objects (YSO) are being "shocked" into life, triggered from the elemental byproducts of a senior generation of stars in their proximity. Contact with this dynamic edge of energized gas appears to act as a catalyst for new life and supports the theory of sequential star formation in extragalactic clusters. It's a heavenly example of a more mature generation aiding its immature offspring in the infinite cycle of existence.
Benoit Neichel of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille led the research team on this illuminating project, assisted by Ph.D. student Anais Bernard. Their findings will assist in the continued understanding of young star formation, and were published last month in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Providing unparalleled clarity and resolution when aimed at expansive starfields, the Gemini South telescope combines the Gemini Multi-conjugate adaptive optics System (GeMS) with the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI), sampling turbulence in Earth's atmospheric layers and correcting the obscuring effects of distortion.
“Because of the remarkable amount of detail, sensitivity, and depth in this image we identified about 100 new Young Stellar Objects, our YSOs, in this region,” reported Neichel. "“Without this advanced adaptive optics technology on Gemini we wouldn’t be able push our observations out to the distance of the LMC. This gives us a unique chance to explore star formation in a different environment.”