– European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) located at the Paranal Observatory, Chile, has captured a beautiful and colorful emission nebula called LHA 120-N55 or N55 as it is usually known.
The nebula is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 163 000 light-years away.
N55 is situated inside a supergiant shell, or superbubble called LMC 4.
Superbubbles, often hundreds of light-years across, are formed when the powerful winds from newly formed stars and shockwaves from supernova explosions work in tandem to blow away most of the gas and dust that originally surrounded them and create huge bubble-shaped cavities.
N55 managed to survive as a small remnant pocket of gas and dust.
It is now a separate nebula inside the superbubble and a colection of brilliant blue and white stars , known as LH 72 that also managed to form hundreds of millions of years after the events that originally blew up the superbubble.
Astronomers expect major changes in the star-forming region of N55.
In future – several million years later, some of the massive and brilliant stars in the LH 72 association will themselves go supernova, scattering N55’s contents.
In effect, a bubble will be blown within a superbubble, and the cycle of starry ends and beginnings will carry on in this close neighbour of our home galaxy.
This new image was acquired using the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph (FORS2) instrument attached to ESO’s VLT.