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Star forming region NGC346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC)
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Image courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech / D.Gouliermis (Max-Planck Institute, Heidelberg) and ESA.
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About this Image
NGC 346 is a bright active star forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), an irregular dwarf galaxy nearby to our Milk Way.
This multi-wavelength false-color image combines X-ray (blue), infrared (red) and visible light (green) captured by ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope.
(The infrared light (red) shows cold dust; visible light (green) denotes irradiative gas; and X-rays (blue) represent hot gas.)
The features of NGC 346 visible in this combined image are deeply related with the different physical processes triggering star formation; they are:
red-orange filaments of cold dust surrounding the centre of the image where the intense radiation from the more massive stars provides enough energy to expand the gas and compress the cold dust into new stars;
A bubble, seen as a blue halo to the left and located within a large expanding gaseous shell, caused by the supernova explosion of a massive star which strong winds, and not radiation, compressed the remaining dust in the parent cloud and formed younger small stars, seen at the top of the image;
Ordinary stars appearing as blue spots with white centres and young stars, shielded by dust, appearing as red spots with white centres.
Higher resolution versions of this image may be available, please contact the XMM-Newton HelpDesk.
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