To NGC 602 and Beyond!


ngc602_hst_960While it’s not quite as far away as Buzz Lightyear’s buzz phrase, near the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy some 200 thousand light-years distant, lies 5 million year old cluster of young stars called NGC 602. Fantastic ridges and swept back shapes in the surrounding gas and dust suggest that energetic radiation and shock waves from NGC 602’s massive young stars have eroded the dusty material and have triggered a progression of star formation moving outward from the cluster’s center. At the estimated distance of the Small Magellanic Cloud, this Hubble picture spans about 200 light-years, but a tantalizing assortment of background galaxies is also visible in this sharp image. The background galaxies are hundreds of millions of light-years beyond the cluster—still not up to Buzz’s goal.

Image Credit: NASA

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