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Massive star-forming complex imaged

The James Webb Space Telescope has imaged a massive star-forming complex – a region of ionized hydrogen (HII) – in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). About it reported in a press release on Phys.org.

The massive star-forming complex N79 is a nebula that spans approximately 1,630 light-years in the largely unexplored southwestern region of the LMC. N79 is generally considered to be a younger version of the Tarantula Nebula (30 Doradus), but the star formation efficiency of the latter has been doubled over the past 500 thousand years.

Star forming regions like this are of interest to astronomers because their chemical composition is similar to that of the giant star forming regions observed when the Universe was only a few billion years old and star formation was at its highest rates. Star forming regions in the Milky Way have a different chemical composition and do not produce stars at a high rate.

The N79 observations are part of a Webb telescope program dedicated to studying the evolution of circumstellar disks and envelopes of forming stars over a wide range of masses and at different stages of evolution. Webb’s sensitivity allows scientists to detect planet-forming dust disks in the LMC around stars with masses similar to the mass of the Sun.

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