Hubble shares the image of a mysterious superbubble in the N44 nebula

A dark, starry gap in the nebula.


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NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope recently shared the image of one of the most distinctive features of the N44 nebula. That feature is nothing but the dark, starry gap called a superbubble in the N44 nebula.

N44 is an emission nebula consisting of glowing hydrogen gas, dark lanes of dust, massive stars, and many populations of stars of different ages. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the nebula has a bubble structure called N44F.

The nebula spans about 1,000 light-years and is about 170,000 light-years away from Earth.

The gap that Hubble snapped is about 250 light-years wide. However, its existence remains elusive. Stellar winds expelled by massive stars in the bubble’s interior may have driven away from the gas, but this is inconsistent with measured wind velocities in the bubble. Another possibility, since the nebula is filled with massive stars that would expire in titanic explosions, is that the expanding shells of old supernovae sculpted the cosmic cavern.

A supernova remnant was also found in the vicinity of the superbubble. Also, there is an almost 5 million year difference in age between stars within and at the rim of the superbubble. This indicates multiple chain-reaction star-forming events within the superbubble.

The deep blue region appearing in the image is one of the hottest regions of the nebula and the area of the most intense star formation.


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